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Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) 2001

Amores Perros, the Pulp Fiction-esque directorial debut of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, was chosen as Mexico's selection for consideration for the best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2000 (and eventually received a nomination). The film tells 3 stories set in Mexico City that all intersect with a car accident, and all show how people are burned by love. The film has solid production values. The 1st, and most compelling, story shows the seedy world of dog fighting. A character discovers his dog has a killer instinct & uses it to earn the money that will allow him to leave town with his brother's wife, with who he is sleeping. This is the strongest section of the film & really manages to portray a side of Mexico we rarely see in films. The film is absolutely raw here, and there aren't a lot of pulled punches in the depiction of the dog fighting. Putting this gritty section 1st definitely works to the film's advantage, as it catches the viewer off guard. As I commented to my friend who was watching with me, "If the film has the guts to kill DOGS, you know all bets are off!" This is definitely a film that would face hell if it was made in America.


The 2nd story shows a model who has broken her leg (in the intersecting car accident) and is confined to her new apartment which she recuperates. Unfortunately, her small dog falls in a hole in the hardwood floor that was made while she was moving in. Without her income as a model, she cannot afford to tear up the floor, and she and her lover are forced to listen to the dog whimpering at night, as they imagine it being terrorized by the rats that also live in the hole. This section of the film definitely works as well... the terror is palpable, since we've seen what's happened to the dogs in the 1st 1/3 of the film.


The 3rd story is the film's weakest, but is far from a failure, and it contains the film's best performance. It centers on a homeless ex-guerilla who is contracted by a man who wants to kill his brother... The hitman has other plans however... This section of the film is probably a little too simple-minded for its own good. The film's energy level is high, and its subject matter and narrative juxtapositions warrant comparisons to Pulp Fiction. It manages to hold up relatively well in that respect, surprisingly. It's missing a lot of the wit, however, that made Pulp Fiction a classic. In addition, the stories never come together in a way that really enlightens, but that's not to say the film is anything less than entertaining.

***1/2

September, 2001

Jeremy Heilman