US release poster
|Directed by||Alejandro González Iñárritu|
|Produced by||Alejandro González Iñárritu|
|Written by||Guillermo Arriaga|
Gael García Bernal
|Music by||Gustavo Santaolalla|
|Editing by||Alejandro González Iñárritu
Fernando Pérez Unda
Alta Vista Films
|Distributed by||Nu Vision (Mexico)
Lions Gate Films (US)
|Running time||153 minutes|
Amores perros is a 2000 Mexican drama film, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Amores Perros is the first movie in Iñárritu's trilogy of death, and was followed by 21 Grams and Babel. It is a triptych; an anthology film, sometimes referred to as the "Mexican Pulp Fiction", containing three distinct stories which are connected by a car accident in Mexico City. Each of the three tales is also a reflection on the cruelty of humans toward animals and each other, showing how they may live dark or even hideous lives. Amores Perros was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000 and won the Ariel Award for Best Picture from the Mexican Academy of Film. But the film's theme is loyalty, as symbolized by the dog, "man's best friend". Dogs are important to the main characters in each of the three stories, and in each story various forms of human loyalty or disloyalty are shown; disloyalty to a brother by trying to seduce the brother's wife, disloyalty to a wife by keeping a mistress with subsequent disloyalty to the mistress when she is injured and loses her beauty, loss of loyalty to youthful idealism and rediscovered loyalty to a daughter as a hit-man falls from and then attempts to regain grace.
The film was released under its Spanish title in the English-speaking world, although its title was sometimes translated as Love's a Bitch in marketing. The soundtrack included songs by well-known Latin American rock bands, such as Café Tacuba, Control Machete, and Bersuit Vergarabat.
The film is constructed from three distinct stories linked by a car accident that brings the characters briefly together.
- Octavio y Susana
The first segment stars Gael García Bernal and Vanessa Bauche as the title characters. Susana is Octavio's sister-in-law; however, Octavio is in love with her and doesn't like the way his brother, Ramiro, treats her. Octavio tries to persuade her to run away with him to get out from under Ramiro's abuse. Needing to make money so that he and Susana can escape and start a life of their own, Octavio becomes involved in the business of dog fighting. Octavio makes enough money to run away with Susana, but Susana takes the money and leaves with her husband. Octavio continues his dog fighting business until a rival owner shoots his dog Cofi. Octavio stabs the rival owner and finds himself in a car chase with his lifelong friend, Jorge, and the wounded dog. A collision follows; Jorge dies and Octavio is badly injured.
- Daniel y Valeria
The next segment stars Álvaro Guerrero and Goya Toledo. Daniel is a successful magazine publisher who leaves his family to live with the Spanish supermodel Valeria played by Goya Toledo. Valeria's leg is severely broken in the accident with Octavio's car and she may be unable to continue working as a model. Valeria is using a wheelchair while she recuperates in the apartment she shares with Daniel. Her dog Richie disappears under the floorboards one day and stays there for days. The missing dog triggers serious tension for the couple, causing numerous fights which leads to doubts about their relationship on both sides. Valeria re-injures her leg trying to help the dog, resulting in severe internal bleeding which leads to gangrene. Her doctor is forced to amputate the leg, removing any chance she might have had at returning to her modeling career. Once her leg is gone, she realizes that her life is most likely ruined since her sense of purpose, modeling, has been taken from her. Later, we see Daniel calling his estranged wife to hear her voice and then hanging up without speaking, suggesting either that he regrets his disloyalty to her, that he realizes that his attraction to Valeria was based only on her now lost beauty, or perhaps both.
- El Chivo y Maru
The final segment stars Emilio Echevarría and Lourdes Echevarría. The story concerns a former private school teacher who had become involved in guerrilla movements that landed him in prison for 20 years. He appears in the film as a bedraggled vagrant pushing a junk cart accompanied by several mongrel dogs for whom he cares. Though he appears to live in perpetual squalor in an abandoned warehouse, he is in fact a professional hitman, El Chivo (The Goat). At times throughout his story, Chivo tries to make contact with his daughter, Maru, whom he abandoned when she was a two-year-old child when he began his guerrilla involvement. Her mother told her that her father had died, instead of telling Maru the truth about the abandonment and the prison sentence.
El Chivo is hired by a man to kill his business partner, and is about to make the kill when the film's central car crash interrupts him. During the chaos at the crash scene, Chivo steals Octavio's money and takes his wounded dog to his home to nurture it. While Chivo is away from the warehouse one day, the rescued dog kills all of the other dogs in the house due to its previous dog fighting. Chivo is intensely upset and prepares to kill the dog but forgives him, figuring that he knows no better and because he sees the dog's violence as a reflection of his own life.
Meanwhile, Ramiro and an accomplice are attempting to rob a bank when he is shot and killed by a plain-clothes policemen. Octavio, seriously injured from the car accident, sees Susana for the first time since she and Ramiro fled with his money. Despite having been wronged, Octavio tries again to get Susana to run away with him, but she becomes angry with the fact that Octavio is willing to run away with her after she has just lost somebody she loves.
Still grieving for his beloved dogs, Chivo captures his intended victim, and after learning that the victim is the client's half-brother, he also captures his client. After shaving his beard and grooming his hair (leading to a drastic change in his appearance) he leaves both men alive and chained to the separate walls with a pistol within reach between them, their fate left undetermined. He then breaks into his daughter's house while she is away, and leaves her a large bundle of money along with a message on her answering machine explaining what happened to him and why the family was split, but just before he tells her he loves her, the answering machine stops recording. Then he goes to an autoshop where he sells the client's SUV. The mechanic asks him what is the name of the dog; he calls him "Negro" (Spanish for "Black"). After he receives the money for the car, Chivo and Negro walk away and disappear once more.
The three overlapping stories all take place Mexico City, but because of neoliberalism, there is severe segregation of economic classes with El Chivo squatting on the outskirts of town, Octavio living in a working-class settlement/neighborhood, and Valeria living in a luxury high-rise apartment. If not for the car accident, these three characters would never interact. The upperclass is victimized in Amores Perros even when they are the ones perpetuating crime, for instance, El Chivo is hired to kill a man’s business partner and eventually decides to leave both men to fight it out themselves. Although Ramiro works at a grocery store, he also participates in the underground economy by committing robberies. Octavio, and El Chivo participate in the underground Mexican economy as well, in order to secure untaxed income and bring stability to their lives.
Amores Perros contains domestic violence, gun violence, and animal cruelty.
Dogfighting is banned in most Latin American countries and exists as an element of the underground economy that comes to exist in working class societies. Although violent, dogfighting provides an opportunity for Octavio to make money, this is true to life in the sense that participating in the underground economy gives people in the lower class the ability to make money and experience mobility. Inarritu was heavily criticized for his inclusion of dogfighting in the film but has said himself that although it is horrible, dogfighting is one of the harsh realities of Mexico City.
Produced by Zeta Film and AltaVista Films, production began on 12 April 1999.
Special notes on production
On the DVD release, there is an informative commentary track by the director and the screenwriter.
One of the most controversial aspects of the film are the scenes of dog fighting. Iñárritu explains that no dogs were harmed during the making of Amores perros. In the scenes where dogs are apparently attacking each other, they were actually playing. Their muzzles were covered with fine fishing line, so that they were unable to bite another dog. In the shots where dogs are apparently dead or dying, they were sedated (under the watchful eye of the Mexican ASPCA). The realism of the scenes is amplified by quick cuts and sound effects.
Another unusual aspect of the production was the danger of filming in the poorer sections of Mexico City. The director and some of the crew were actually robbed by street gangs.
The film was met with very positive reviews from critics and received many nominations and awards. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 92% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 111 reviews, with an average score of 7.8/10, making the film a "Certified Fresh" on the website's rating system.
- The film won the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
- The film won the top award at the 2001 edition of Fantasporto.
- The film won the Prize of the Critic's Week at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
- The film won the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.
- Amores perros also appeared on Empire's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time where it ranked at number 492.
- Hyperlink cinema - the film style of using multiple inter-connected story lines.
- Yuva/Aayutha Ezhuthu - Hindi/Tamil films with similar narrative structure.
- Julian Smith, Paul (March 4, 2008). Amores Perros. British Film Institute. p. 12. ISBN 0-85170-973-7.
- Amores Perros (2001) - Box Office Mojo
- The Significance Of The Queer And The Dog In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros (2000): A Masculinity At War
- Wiegand, Chris. "Amores Perros (Love's A Bitch)". BBC.
- Portes, Alejandro; Bryan R. Roberts (2005). "The Free-Market City: Latin American Urbanization in the Years of the Neoliberal Experiment*". Studies in Comparative International Development 40 (1): 45–82.
- M, Matt (4 October 1989). "Off-the-Books Growth Fuels Mexico --- but Underground Economy is a Two-Edged Sword". Wall Street Journal.
- Romney, Jonathan (22 August 2000). The Guardian.
- Empire Features—The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time
- Amores perros at the Internet Movie Database
- Amores perros at AllMovie
- Amores perros at Box Office Mojo
- Amores perros at Rotten Tomatoes
- Amores perros at Metacritic