Thursday, 7 January 2010

Being Tough Won't Make You Smart.

I do believe my initial viewing of Amores Perros came after Y Tu Mamá También, and was probably as a direct result of my love for the latter. Don't ask me to choose between them. It's like asking to choose your favourite child.

Amores Perros (Love's A Bitch - I like the Spanish original better) is the debut feature from director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who went on to 21 Grams and Babel, as well as the debut feature for writer (and collaborator on all of Iñárritu's features thus far completed) Guillermo Arriaga, who has also written and directed Blindness since his falling out with Iñárritu.

As notable as the introduction of the writing and directing talent was the introduction of Gael García Bernal, in the role of Octavio. His blistering performance in the first segment of the film completely draws you into the world that he is constantly running within - his fear always shows through his bravado always just enough to let you know that, really, he isn't in this for the same reasons as everyone else. He's scared.

But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves.

The film is structured into three distinct but overlapping stories, bound in the middle by a car crash. Octavio and his friend are making money from dogfighting in order that Octavio can run away with his sister-in-law, who he is in love with yet is being beaten by her husband, Octavio's husband. They get themselves into a spot of bother and BAM, car crash. So ends that story (for the most part - it's revisited at the end.)

Meanwhile, model Valeria (Goya Toledo) is having an illicit affair with a magazine (editor? publisher?) Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero.) She ducks out to get some wine and BAM, car crash. The story follows her rehabilitation from horrible fractures and her mental undoing as her dog disappears under the floorboards and more medical problems ensue.

Lastly, El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría) is a former con, now almost homeless, an ex-bum being thrown criminal jobs by a crooked cop. He is set up for an assassination and then BAM, car crash. The dog Octavio had been carrying is now in his care (he's apparently a mammoth dog lover), and things begin to take him a little bit longer. Plus, he's trying to reconnect with his daughter, who is under the impression that he died when he actually went to prison decades earlier.

That's the basic gist of it. I don't really want to give away any plot points beyond what I've already done (there are probably spoilers already - deal with it) so I'm going to leave it at those very rudimentary breakdowns of the three storylines. They all link up in more ways than the car crash and the dog element, however. Oh, don't worry, there are SO many more layers happening here it hurts.

The acting is uniformly. The concept is brilliant as a script and perfectly executed on the screen. Tonally, the three are very different, but this works perfectly - lives are all very different, and as a demonstration of how one random incident can affect people in very different ways it is powerfully effective. The cinematographical changes tie in with the tone, though very subtly - Rodrigo Prieto (who went on to an Oscar nom for Brokeback Mountain, amongst much other terrific work on a number of films) captures it stunningly.

I really don't have a bad word to say about it. Seriously, these Mexicans (and Fernando Meirelles, who is Brazilian) are amazing. It hurts me. That region (a broad generalisation of two large countries, I know, but get over it) produced some of the most phenomenal films of the last few decades in the space of a few years. I don't know what's in the water, but maybe I need to move there next. 5 stars.


  1. I love this film so much it hurts.

  2. I love this film so much it hurts.

  3. Tell me about it.

    Though you loved this film so much you commented twice.