"You and your plans. You know what my grandmother used to say? If you want to make God laugh... tell Him your plans."
Amores Perros was Mexican director, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's directorial debut, and he really entered with a bang winning several awards for this acclaimed film. Along with the success of Guillermo del Toro (El Espinazo del Diablo) and Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien), these trio of directors began the renaissance movement in Mexico during the beginning of the century. Today they are all directing big budget movies in Hollywood, but it wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for this gem of a movie that put Mexican cinema in the international map again. Gael Garcia Bernal was also a revelation in this film and has become a well known actor after his performance here and in Y Tu Mama Tambien. Having watched Iñarritu's later films, 21 Grams and Babel, I kind of knew what to expect from Amores Perros. He has a way of interconnecting several stories and playing with linear chronological events, and Amores Perros seems to be the film that started this trait. I wish I would've seen this film before the others because this feels like a more complete film, but I have grown a bit tired of the director's stylish and depressing vision of the world. This is still a great film with some powerful scenes, although the movie does suffer from being a little too long (150 minutes) and I thought one of the stories (Valeria and Daniel's) wasn't up to the same level of the other two and I could have done without it. Having said that I still believe this is one of his best films and definitely Mexico's best film. It deserves all the awards it has received and should've won an Oscar for best foreign picture if it didn't have to compete against Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The script from Guillermo Arriaga was also gripping and realistic. In my opinion Iñarritu's best work has been done alongside Arriaga.
The film centers on three interconnected stories that overlap with each other in a terrible car accident. The first story focuses on Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his sister-in-law Susana (Vanessa Bauche), with whom he's secretly in love. His brother, Ramiro (Marco Perez) treats her terribly, but Octavio promises to take care of her if she runs away with him. In order to make money, Octavio gets involved with dog fighting, since his dog happens to be a great fighter. When one of the dog fights goes wrong, Octavio has to escape from a group of gang leaders that eventually cause the traffic accident. The second story (and my least favorite one) centers on the relationship between a successful model, Valeria (Goya Toledo) and magazine editor named Daniel (Alvaro Guerrero) who has abandoned his family to live with her. And finally the third story introduces us to a bum named El Chivo (Emilio Echeverría) who also works as a contracted killer. All these characters also seem to have special relationships with their dogs.
As the title suggests dogs do play a very important role in this film, not only because the accident is produced in the first place due to a dog fight, but because Iñarritu compares the violence in dog fights with the brutality and savagery of humanity. There are several themes and layers to this film, but Iñarritu knows his craft and delivers a very brutal and realistic film. Amores Perros is an ambitious movie with several scenes that will stick with you and some powerful performances from Gael Garcia Bernal and Emilio Echeverría. Iñarritu is very familiar with the brutality in human nature and isn't afraid to show the dark side of humanity along with the search for true love. Amores Perros is an emotionally involving movie with a gripping humanistic story, but I think Iñarritu should shift gears for his next movie and focus on another aspect of humanity instead. This film was fresh and innovative, but his tricks have grown old after 21 Grams, Babel, and Biutiful.