The Film: Amores Perros (2000).
The director: Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Plot synopsis: Three concurrent narratives based in Mexico City. All are linked to dogs, love and loss, hence the title, which translates as ‘Love’s a Bitch’. The stories are all affected by events in the other narratives, having a ‘Sliding Doors’ effect – if X + Y happens then Z is the outcome but if one of those factors is taken out of the equation, something entirely different could happen.
The first story is Octavio’s (Gael Garcia Bernal) – who is in love with his brother’s wife (Susana) and looks after his brother’s dog, Cofi. After discovering that there is easy money to be made in dogfighting, and with the odds stacked in his favour, he enters the brutal world in order to raise money to run away with Susana. An unexpected series of events leads to disaster, which directly affects the second and third narratives.
The second story follows Valeria (Goya Toledo), a famous model with her image plastered across many of Mexico City’s skyscrapers and billboards. Everything is going right for her, having finally moved into a nice apartment with her boyfriend, Daniel. The event that occurs in the first narrative inadvertently ruins her life, taking a toll on her career and her relationship.
The third tale is that of El Chivo (Emilio Echevarria), a former guerilla terrorist and hitman, who regrets his past and wants nothing more than to set things right with his daughter, who he abandoned at a young age. Having become homeless, he finds solitude and happiness in helping stray dogs, which links in to the first story again. He still lives a guerilla lifestyle, and runs into a very unsavoury but lucrative proposal from a businessman. The event that occurs at the start of the film completely changes his course of actions.
Why should I watch it? It utilises a fantastic hyper-narrative, and at times it feels like a Hollywood action film (but a good one, with the gritty realism that you would hope to expect, rather than cars exploding and flipping over each other and boats going into Shark mouths). Inarritu’s trilogy, which comprises of Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel (more on the latter two later, maybe), is incredibly well written, and although the three films do not link together in terms of plot or narrative, they all follow similar themes.
Best moment: As I briefly mentioned in one of my other posts, the beginning of the film grabs your attention like few others manage. I wouldn’t watch it if you don’t want spoilers or don’t have a strong stomach though:
Worst moment: There isn’t a “worst moment” so to speak of, but the dog-fighting is awfully graphic and so believable that it actually caused outrage on release. The crew insist that everything was under guidance of the Mexican ASPCA and that no animals were harmed (they were sedated, never coming into contact with each other, etc.), but the scenes are so amazingly well filmed that it does put doubts in your mind.
So, how many Walrus points do you give it? 9,890/10,000. Nearly perfect. I just love the whole narrative structure and it’s a rarity to find a film that can pace itself perfectly, whether it’s high-octane edge of the seat stuff or a downbeat moment. The soundtrack compliments it perfectly, and it still retains a feeling of reality.
Fun fact of the day: In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.
The Walrus has spoken.