The International Writers Magazine:

Amores Perros
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Screenwriter: Guillermo Arriaga
Love is a bitch. Some would agree. Others, maybe not.
Gabriela Davies

After watching Amores Perros (‘Dog Love’, 2000), Alejandro González Iñárritu’s awarding winning film, one might choose to reconsider.

Following the lives of many characters, some whose destinies collide with others, and many others who are simply a sub-feature to the storyline of the film, Amores Perros tells one story while it tells many, as in retrospect they all share a linear psychoanalytical evolution and similar symbolic characteristics. Visceral is the word. Fast, frustrating, loud, annihilating. Every scene of this film is painful to watch; yet one cannot stop watching. The ‘dog love’, a theme that indirectly the plot revolves around, can be understood in various ways. Is ‘dog love’ the love of dog, as there is a dog with an important role in each one of the intertwining plots? Or is it a reference made to the dog-fights shown at various points throughout the film, where furious dogs instinctively attack each other to death (an analogy of love itself)?

Dog seems to be a victim of mankind and all our obsessions, Octavio’s (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) addiction to money and the plan of running away with his sister-in-law, Valeria’s (played by Goya Toledo) maternal drive for her dog, whose disappearance adds to her already ripening depression and emotional instability, and the three or four dogs who follow El Chivo (played by Emilio Echevarria) around in his quasi-beggar lifestyle.

In a sense, the dog has for Amores Perros what the chicken has for the Brazilian film Cidade de Deus (City of God), an important symbolic presence and a reference point for the film’s complicated plotting, as the scenes come forward and backward to give an increased intensity.

The film starts on a very fast note, there is a car chase, and the viewer sees Gael Garcia Bernal driving frantically with a dying dog covered in blood in his back seat. It ends, as most car chases in films do, in spectacular fashion, as the lives of the three main characters cross and meet, influencing and changing each ones destinies in very different ways. The photography is very precise, and so is the soundtrack. Iñárritu uses very upbeat, modern music, and this gives the viewer an even more vivid performance. Some of the scenes are heartbreaking, and the performances of Goya Toledo, Gael Garcia Bernal and Emilio Echevarria are very strong and sincere.

Red and black reminds the viewer of blood and death, important key words that will surround the characters. Death is always nearby, either in the role of an aggressive brother, a violent part of town, a funeral to which one was not invited, or a severe injury caused by a car accident. The former, blood, is always waiting around the corner. Rats, dogs, men, families, Iñárritu brings us blood and pain in the very definitions of the words. Does he intend to portray us all as animals? Or does he choose to show, by the ending scene, that the love of the dog to its owner is the only love in the whole storyline that can be praised for its veracity.

The film ends with a quote to leave a final forceful impression on the viewer. It becomes obvious that director Iñárritu and the screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga had a strong reason, or at last a strong inspiration, for directing this film. This emotional drive is evident when the last image fades out and the following sentence appears on screen: "A luciano: porque también somos lo que hemos perdido." This translates: ‘to Luciano: because we are also what we have lost’. Whether indeed love is, or not, as beautifully tragic as Iñárritu depicts, this is a choice one will make when the credits start rolling. The film will stay with you for days.
© Gabriela Davies 20.12.2006
gabrieladavies@ at

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