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Amores Perros (2000)

Aka Love’s a Bitch. You and your plans. You know what my grandmother used to say? If you want to make God laugh – tell Him your plans. The eve of the Millennium in Mexico City. A car accident brings three groups of people together. Octavio and Susana: Rebellious teenager Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) is secretly in love with his brother’s wife Susana (Vanessa Bauche) and dislikes the way she is abused by his brother Ramiro (Marco Perez). Octavio tries to persuade her to run away with him. Local thug Jarocho (Gustavo Sanchez Parra), happy after winning in a dog fight, lets his dog loose on some strays and is threatened by a machete-wielding vagrant. Eventually, Jarocho sics his dog on Octavio’s Rottweiler Cofi, but his own dog is killed instead. Made aware of this by his friend Jorge and needing money to start his new life with Susana, Octavio decides to become involved in the dogfighting scene. Jarocho keeps entering new dogs into the fights, only for Cofi to kill them. Octavio makes enough money to flee with Susana and pays Mauricio (Gerardo Campbell) the owner of the dogfighting venue to have Ramiro beaten up. Afraid, Ramiro steals the money and leaves with Susana … Daniel and Valeria: Television producer Daniel (Alvaro Guerrero) leaves his family to live with his Spanish supermodel lover Valeria (Goya Toledo). On the day they move in together, Valeria’s leg is severely broken in Octavio’s car accident and she is unable to continue working as a model. One day, as Valeria is recuperating in Daniel’s apartment, her pampered dog Richie disappears under a broken floorboard chasing a ball and stays there for several days. The missing dog triggers serious tension for the couple since there are rats down there and they have causing fights which lead to doubts about their relationship on both sides. Daniel calls his estranged wife to hear her voice, suggesting that he regrets leaving her for Valeria. Trying to rescue the dog, Valeria again injures her leg; Daniel finds her hours later… El Chivo and Maru:  The vagrant occasionally seen in Octavio’s story is actually El Chivo (Emiio Echevarria) a professional assassin. Leonardo (Jose Sefami) a corrupt police commander says that El Chivo is a former private school teacher imprisoned after committing terrorist acts for guerrilla organisations. When he got out, Leonardo started getting him jobs as a hitman. El Chivo tries to make contact with his daughter, Maru (Lourdes Echevarria) whom he abandoned when he began getting involved with illegal movements. Following El Chivo’s wishes, her mother told her that her father is dead. He is about to perform a hit on a businessman when Octavio’s car crash interrupts him. In the ensuing chaos El Chivo steals Octavio’s money and takes the wounded Cofi to his squat to nurse the dog back to health, doing for the dog what he has been unable to do for his estranged young daughter … Goddamn brother! As you can see there’s a lot of people that want you dead! Shot with urgency by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, this breathlessly paced and edited cross-class picture of stories linked by the theme of dogs and their emblematic role from Guillermo Arriaga’s screenplay bristles with energy and vision. It’s a shock to the system, these unconnected people literally bumping up against each other with extraordinary consequences. Perhaps a little too plotty for something that relies on the surprise interactions and effects of such a violent incident, the performances from a cast telling stories of loss and abandonment, loyalty and betrayal are explored with acute and melodramatic intention, laced with Bunuelian irony, to lighten the tension and sense of danger. Taking an inventive approach to structure – let’s call it Rashomon X Pulp Fiction – this is like a brutal slap in the face. As a friend remarked upon this film’s release, Jean-Luc Godard is alive and well and living in Mexico City. What a debut. Back in 2000, this was an event. Is this kidnapping or robbery?

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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