Amores Perros

2000 dog movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: Three nearly-intersecting tales of people and their dogs. In one, a guy in love with his sister-in-law takes up dog-fighting in order to whisk the gal away. In another, a model's accident threatens her relationship and her career. And in the third, a hit-man takes a job.

I've got some gaps in my movie education with Alexander Gonzalez Inarritu films, likely because I knew I am limited by my lack of ability to type letters with tildas or accents and wouldn't be able to spell his name correctly. I loved both Birdman and The Revenant, and even though Biutiful depressed the hell out of me, I thought I'd finally watch Inarritu's earlier work.

I guess the guy doesn't have a feel-good movie in him. I knew this would be bleak going in, especially after reading it was the first in a "death trilogy" along with Babel and 21 Grams. I didn't see Babel, and I don't remember 21 Grams which I must have seen right before starting my pointless blogging journey. Amores Perros isn't as bleak as Biutiful; in fact, you could probably win an argument about how there's quite a bit of very black humor embedded. It does, however, deal with people in situations--all involving that bitch-y love--that most people wouldn't want to be in. The dog-fighter kid, played by Gael Garcia Bernal in his first role, is hopelessly in love with somebody he's not supposed to be in love with and then falls in love with the power and cash associated with his new hobby. The hit-man's broken, suffering from a parental love that he can't enjoy. And the model's love of her boyfriend, her dog, and her own vanity is shattered when she jacks up her leg.

You quickly lose hope for the characters early on in their individual stories, even when things are looking pretty good for them, and that's because of the dire tone that Inarritu creates. There's a chaos created, the camera jerking all over the place and color and life almost seeming to be draining from the characters' surroundings. There's also so much blood--dog blood, leg blood, victim blood, more dog blood--and that much blood just can't be good for a movie character's future. And it's inability to retain hope in these characters that makes this another exhausting Inarritu film experience. The Revenant wore me out; I felt bludgeoned by the epic and CGI bear rumble. Biutiful--despite fun, colorful urine--also drained me. These stories and their characters kept me interested for the duration of this lengthy film, and I especially enjoyed the moments when their narrative paths intersected or almost intersected. But as I get older and older, the sort of on-screen desolation seems to wear on me more and more.

It makes me wonder if I should just start diving into Adam Sandler movies where I'm not likely to see dead or dying dogs and those gallons of canine blood.

Nah, I've already reconsidered. I'd rather watch the dogs bleeding to death. I'm not really all that squeamish, but the dog scenes in this were really graphic and difficult to watch. I'm not sure how they were handled exactly either. The dog-fighting sequences looked real to me, and each lifeless dog that was dragged or picked up appeared to be a real lifeless dog.

All the dogs and the grit gave this a realistic touch. If somebody watched this movie and didn't like it, I'd probably guess that it's because it's too real. Nobody likes having his or her face shoved in reality for that long. The performers definitely helped give it that realism. All of the performances are very good, but I was especially moved by the old guy who played the hit-man. His name is Emilio Echevarria, and I'm surprised to see he hasn't done much of anything. This, Y Tu Mama Tambien, and a few small roles in other movies. Here, he's got this physicality that gives away all these complex emotions. He's a man battered by life as he pushes around this cart, slouching and leading a posse of ragged dogs. And then he's something stoic and calculating and driven as he's going about his job. There's one scene where he's just sitting alone with a newspaper that floored me. He was just so good as this guy who refuses to be a tragic character. Or maybe he is a tragic character. Maybe we're all tragic characters.

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