The thought of a two-and-a-half-hour long Mexican film revolving around dogs is not exactly inviting. Thankfully taking a fast-paced approach to a series of interlinking stories this owes rather more to Pulp Fiction, Short Cuts or Magnolia than Lassie Come Home.

The three main stories involve a young mother, her criminal husband and his family, whom they live with. The second is of a successful business man and the changes in his relationships with his wife and his model lover, while the third revolves around an ex-guerilla-turned-tramp's past contract killing.

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Throughout the film the dogs fair stunningly badly - they fight, get shot, get lost, bitten by rats, involved in car crashes and generally knocked about - though we are assured that "no dog was actually harmed in the making of the film..."

Be warned, though, that canine carnage is severe. It begins with the seriously rough-and-ready underworld of dog-fighting. A troubled love-hate dynamic develops as both people and pets find difficulties with each other and life-changing-events create tensions.

A clever and highly watchable piece, Amores Perros is helped by the picture's distinctive colourisation and a pumping soundtrack.

As well as the gratifying repetition in its structure, many interesting extra characters are introduced into each of the strands. The acting is solid, with Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Valaria (Goya Toledo) standing out from the younger cast. But it is the utterly wonderful tramp character, "the Goat" played by Emilio Echevarria, who easily steals the show. A character of real depth, he is alive in both the most comic and moving scenes.

This involving drama provides a highly visceral (indeed the director claims he didn't put his heart into the movie, rather "my entrails and a piece of my liver") insight into humanity (and dogs!).

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 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
Angus Wolfe Murray ****

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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