Capturing the spirit of a city within three interlocking storylines is like trapping sunlight in a butterfly net. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, with his first film, comes as close as you can. His secret is to trust the gut, not the intellect, and let the camera roam free.

Amores Perros translates as Love's A Bitch. Suffering has its own energy and here, in Mexico City, life is cheap. Violence runs through the veins, as passion drives men to madness. The unifying force that brings these disparate characters together is not love, but death.

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An unemployed teenager (Gael Garcia Bernal), with the hots for his brother's wife, discovers by chance that the family mastiff is a killer. He makes use of its talent in the backstreet dog fighting pits, saving the money the animal earns for a new life with his sister-in-law and her baby, while his brother works at a supermarket checkout, moonlighting as an armed robber.

A magazine publisher (Alvaro Guerrero) leaves his wife and children for a ravishing model (Goya Toledo). They move into a new apartment, where her pet pooch disappears through a hole in the floorboards. She is distraught. He is aggravated. This is only the first in a series of calamities, reinforcing the adage that beauty is only skin deep.

A tramp (Emilio Echevarria), who lives with dogs and the memory of a daughter he deserted when she was two, was once an urban terrorist. He supports himself by accepting money for murder. His intellect and disdain for the capitalist system remains fresh, respecting the nature of animals above that of man.

These stories touch at extreme moments, without being aware of their connection. Guillermo Arriaga Jordan's script is clever without being smart. The lack of artifice adds to its strength, as if the emotions expressed are as real as blood. The city breathes in the darkness like a bull. No one is safe from its rage.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2001
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Interlinking stories, connected by a car crash and dogs.
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Read more Amores Perros reviews:

Keith Hennessey Brown ****1/2
Nicola Osborne ****

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Writer: Guillermo Arriaga Jordan

Starring: Emilio Echevarria, Gael Garcia Bernal, Goya Toledo, Alvaro Guerrero, Vanessa Bauche, Jorge Salinas, Rodrigo Murray Prisant

Year: 1999

Runtime: 153 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Mexico

Festivals:

EIFF 2000

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