The body of a dog lies bleeding in its master1s helpless hands – amores perros, “life is a bitch.”
Director Alejandro Gonzalez I?arritu1s debut film, Amores Perros (Lions Gate Films) portrays the stark realities of love and life among the slums and skyscrapers of Mexico City.
Amores Perros tells three stories that converge on one another in a car accident. The first tale follows teenage Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) as he enters his dog Cofi into a brutal dogfight to win enough money to elope with his brother1s wife, Susana (Vanessa Bauche). In the film1s second tale, a middle-aged businessman leaves his family to live with young model Valeria (Goya Toledo) only to find her perfect figure tragically altered in the car accident that links her to Octavio. The final story is that of bystander to the accident, El Chivo (Emilio Echevarria) and the epiphany he experiences after witnessing the crash.
The tribulations of life promptly surface in the movie1s opening, as a blood-splattered car wreck exposes the convoluted lives of three individuals. The audience repeatedly collides head-on with the gory truth and unglamorous details in each of the victim1s lives, as I?arritu presents the many dimensions of a tragically surreal situation.
The victims of the wreck futilely attempt to pull their bruised egos and broken wishes back together after the initial collision, but I?arritu1s characters only walk away in disillusionment. The superficiality of a modeling career, the loneliness of a hermit and the opportunism of a jealous brother are all shattered during the crash, making for a difficult path back to success and happiness.
I?arritu brings a steadily rising momentum to the plot by driving viewers down various surreal paths of suspense, humor and confusion. Silly interludes, such as when the dog of supermodel Valeria gets trapped under her apartment floorboards, alleviate the film1s many stomach-jolting scenes of brutal violence and suspense. Conversely, other scenes highlight the movie1s traumatic underlying themes, such as when El Chivo caresses his canine1s blood-stained corpse.
The film addresses the usual subjects of love, loss and the failure of relying on religious faith, but the Mexican director presents these themes with brutal honesty and unique imagery. I?arritu gives the viewer the unsavory and mundane details of life1s daily routine – such as bickering with family members around the kitchen table – which he cleverly weaves into his explanation of the hustle and chaos of life1s surprises.
Amores Perros defies the conventional time sequencing of events, offering viewers character explanations and event summaries in a decidedly Tarantino-esque style. Anything, ranging from vicious rooftop dogfights to suicide attempts in a high-rise apartment building, appears feasible. Viewers gain a sense that life1s spontaneous cruelties are lurking around every street corner.
I?arritu1s work received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for best foreign language film. The movie is a 108-minute tour de force on the harsh realities of technological societies that addresses the dreams and illusions of people who are unfortunate enough to believe in merriment and love. Characters and viewers alike leave burdened by I?arritu1s vivid imagery of a battered, blood-saturated bitch in their arms – they exist understanding amores perros, the movie1s traumatic underlying themes.
Amores Perros is in theaters now