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A smartly modern elegy.
the red duchess22 May 2001
There is a character in 'Amores perros' who looks like Karl Marx. He is a tramp and an assassin, a good bourgeois who one day, Reggie Perrin-like, abandoned his family, and, un-Reggie Perrin-like, joined the Sandanistas in an effort to create a better world, earning 20 years in prison for his troubles. Walking the streets with a creaky cart and a gaggle of mangy dogs, he was found by the policeman who jailed him, who gave him a dingy place to live, food, and the odd, non-official contract.

El Chivo is the soul of the film, the missing link, both in appearance (a man called 'The Goat', who has rejected the civilities of society and lives a beast-like existence with his dogs, amongst the ruins of civilisation), and narrative function. With intricate structure, 'Amores perros' tells three stories, one of underclass Mexican life, where survival depends on what New Labour calls 'illegal economies' (dog-fighting, bank-robbing etc.), where bright young women are stifled and degraded by thoughtless pregnancies and brutal marriages, where single mothers depend (and usually can't depend) on shiftless sons for subsistence; and this world's mirror opposite, the world of the media, of celebrity, of models and magazine editors, of daytime TV, perfume advertising campaigns and bright apartments. Family life is central here too, although in this case it is torn apart by more pleasanntly bourgeois ailments like ennui and dissatisfaction.

These two stories are mediated by the narrative of El Chivo, the man who left one of these worlds for the other, but who still negotiates the two, through his search for the daughter he left as a toddler, and in his 'job', wiping out businessman. If Mexico is emerging as part of the super-confident globalism of high-capitalism, than El Chivo is the grizzly sore thumb, the ex-Sandinista, the Marx lookalike, the man who said no, the drop-out, the forgotten, the depleted spirit of the Left, happily killing and torturing the servants of the new economic regime.

There is something Biblical about his hirsute ascetism too, presuming to judge the 'Cain and Abel' half-brothers, one an adulterer, the other with a contract out on his sibling, another example of family gone badly wrong. This, the bleak funeral and grave scenes, and Octavia's functional crossing himself every time he passes an icon on the landing, are the sole residual elements of religion in a society once ostentatiously religious.

Except for the director. Like Paul Thomas Anderson in 'Magnolia', although to a less self-conscious degree, Gonzales Inarritu is the God of his film, intricately creating the structure that links his characters and their different environments. These are negative connections, however, which work against the idea of coherent meaning in life - contact usually results in destruction (physical, material, spiritual), or diminishing.

He is also an Old Testament god, punishing those who would get too confident with their future plans or their seemingly inviolable present success - the gains of capitalism are prey to the violent whims of chance: Gonzalez Inarritu doesn't need frogs to shake a rigid society or mindset.

Moral change is linked to physical change - being beaten up, losing a leg, cutting hair. The punning title, with its reference to the dog-eat/fight-dog nature of modern life, and its general unsatisfactoriness, also gives the film its Biblical feel, the idea of Mexico as an asphalt desert, or a rubbish heap, with all these scrawny mutts scavenging the remains.

'Amores perros' shares the sickly, bleached near-monochrome look of many recent crime films, like 'Chopper' or 'Bleeder'. But where the heightened mise-en-scene in those works were expressionistic projections of their protagonists' psychosis, here it's part of a controlling world-view, the universal consciousness that creates, connects and destroys.

The three stories, though connected narratively and symbolically, are mutually distinct - the first is an exhilirating mix of violent gangster film and frustrated romance; the second is like a short story (the screenwriter is a novelist), a figurative plot where movement is through image, symbol and idea, rather than film narrative; the third is a kind of spiritual journey, with an appropriately Biblical (or Wim Wenders-like) openness.

'Amores perros' is not quite as amazing as its admirers claim - it says more about contemporary cinema that a film only has to hold your interest for it to be a masterpiece - but it is consistently enthralling, and, despite all the stylistic tics and brutal violence, bracingly humanist.
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Doggie Holocaust makes for Best Mexican Film Ever
WriterDave11 June 2003
Some people just won't want to sit through this film because of the overtly graphic and disturbing dog fighting scenes, which is ironic, because most people don't seem to mind the graphic violence involving the people in this film. Others simply won't watch it because of the subtitles. This is a shame, since this is by far the best film I have ever seen come out of Mexico (far better and more complex than the comparably immature "Y Tu Mama Tambien"). Here we get an intertwining tale involving dog fights, petty gangsters, a tragically injured model, a cheating husband, an abused teenage wife, and a homeless hit man. As you might expect the homeless hit man becomes the soul of the film, and the dogs serve as a link, reminding us of the violence we inflict upon each other and nature, and the fractured relationships we think beyond repair, but are actually more resilient than we could ever imagine. Brilliantly directed with a great soundtrack and a bigger heart than you might initially perceive, "Amores Perros" is a deep, thought-provoking and utterly enthralling film that you will not soon forget.
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reality is weirder than fiction
danielariasv19 July 2002
Maybe for most of you, people outside third-world countries like Mexico or Colombia, my home, movies like ths one are only representations of another world... something away from you. My city, medellin, is one of the most dangerous cities on the world. Mexico city can be as dangerous as medellin. I`m not talking about politics. maybe you haven`t lived violence as near as i have, but im gonna tell you something, that is the main reason i voted 9 this movie: Amores perros is not fiction. Its a perfect peep to what life is here. We have expensive models that go to stupid tv shows, we have dog fighting, we have mercedes, we have old trucks, we have killers, businessmen, we feel love, we have houses... our life, as you can see in the movie, isn`t as different as you think. Amores perros can show you that life is not easy here. but that`s it. What you saw is thousand`s of people life. that`s why it`s so magic to you. Yourè seeing what you will never live there, in london, new york, seattle, paris, berlin... reality is weirder than fiction... see it on amores perros, and you`ll believe me... live it here, and no movie will surprise you
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Brilliant movie! One of the best this decade...
Infofreak24 May 2002
'Amores Perros' impressed the hell out of me. Three interrelated tales of the darker side of life in contemporary Mexico City, each one as fresh and as fascinating as the last. Each of the three stories are dark, disturbing and filled with humanity. Superbly acted all round, but especially noteworthy is the standout performance by Emilio Echevarria as El Chivo, a political dissident turned hitman, and if the charismatic Gael Garcia Bernal (Octavia, the lovesick dog fighter) isn't an international star in the making I'll eat my words. This brilliant movie shows up the mediocrity of most current Hollywood "product", and to my mind ranks with a small handful of movies made this decade ('Chopper', 'The Pledge', 'The Way Of The Gun') that are truly memorable and with genuine substance. This one is a winner and essential viewing for all movie lovers. A future classic.
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On Men And Dogs
dromasca25 April 2003
This Mexican movie was surprisingly good. I confess the sin of prejudice concerning Mexican cinema, this being maybe the second Mexican film I have ever seen, but here my sins are punished. This is the work of a director of big talent. Hopefully, he will not be spoiled by the success.

Three different stories in today's Mexico mix with very few common elements. The characters belong to different social categories, and nothing connects them at first sight, excepting the feeling of un-happiness, and - yes - dogs. Dogs play an important role in all three stories. One more warning - there is a lot of cruelty including dog fights - this film is certainly not for sensitive animal lovers.

Directing is excellent, the stories are human and complex and despite their melodramatic or sometimes tragic outcome, they still leave you with a shade of hope - maybe because the humanity that the author uses to create his characters. There are so many memorable scenes, that I would commit another sin to pick any and describe it here - just rent, or go to watch this movie in the theater - it is worth all 150 or so minutes you will spend. 9/10 on my personal scale.
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Must've beaten Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the Academy Awards
tricky_jgc11 April 2005
I think we're talking about one of the best Mexican films ever (i say so, knowing there's been excellent Luis Buñuel films as well as Arturo Ripstein ones, like 'Principio y Fin' -Begining and End- that is this director's highest peak (based on the book by Naguib Mafusz)and Emilio 'El Indio' Fernandez ones that i don't personally like that much (even though he received the Golden Bear in the 'Berlinale').

Being surrounded by terrible Mexican movies, 'Amores Perros' was so refreshing and remarkably above every expectation that everybody could have about a first-time director (even though he was well-known for his wonderful work at advertising (changing the way ads were made in Mexico) and as a radio DJ in a WFM radio station that contributed to change radio in Mexico, too, along with Rock 101. Gonzalez Iñarritu (in cooperation with his almost personal screenwriter, Guillermo Arriaga) creates such a complex yet flawless history based on three individual ones that converge not only in the dantesque (reference to Dante Alighieri's style, The Divine Comedy) car accident, but in their perception and description of how love can be harsh, as well as life itself, of how love can get to be a bitch, a struggle.

First Story ('Octavio y Susana') is about Octavio's (Garcia Bernal) obsession with his sister-in-law, Susana (Vanessa Bauche), but it's also about the violence, about an illusion, about betrayal, about loss. This is also reflected in the character of Octavio's dog, Cofi in a parallel relationship with his owner while he seeks his own destiny, having lost everything, he'll have to redefine his life. This parallelism also occurs in the second story('Daniel y Valeria'), an almost surreal one, where Ritchie being trapped underneath the condo's floor represents how it's owner Valeria (Goya Toledo) is trapped in a relation with Daniel that grows sicker as her injury (caused by the car accident) gets worse. The removal of the gigantic advertising of 'Enchant', the scent campaign that she used to be the image for, from the view of her balcony represents their decline: Daniel (Avaro Guerrero) left behind his marriage for this superficial mirage kind of dream, and she will have to make a whole redefinition of her life after losing everything. The dog-character parallelism with the main characters of this film can also be noticed in the third story ('El Chivo y Maru'), where 'El Chivo' (Emilio Echevaria), a former College teacher that left it all, family included, to become some guerrilla terrorist (is there a symbolism for Subcommander Marcos, from EZLN?), and now finds, by losing it all (all of his dogs being killed), but finding a new reason, new company just before a hit-man-type mission where he sets a confrontation between two brothers in such a biblical style the chance that none of the characters from the rest of the stories had: redemption. That's when he decides to retrieve some of the things he has lost, like Maru (Lourdes Echevarria -Emilio's actual daughter in real life), by at least apologizing to her, and redeeming himself finding a new life. It's clear that he'll stop being a homeless, because by the end of the movie he's got plenty of money. This story is one step ahead of the other two, cause after the loss they are all victims of, 'El Chivo' is the only one who gets that chance to start from scratch once again. Huge merit to Emilio Echevarria's performance for making believable the only character that was in risk of not being plausible of the film. Because of the relation within the characters, their dogs and their own love personal story, the title is, too a big success (both in Spanish and in English).

Of the episodic narrative structure of the movie (a few critics in the Cannes Film Festival compared it with Tarantino's Pulp Fiction), it can be said that besides making it more beautiful and complex, it's also necessary. One can't figure a way to resolve the situation other than this one. The thrill, the shock would never be the same. For example, if each one was a short film instead, it wouldn't work the same way as the whole movie.

In the film, Gonzalez Iñarritu allows himself to appear a few times: in the editorial where Daniel works, for example, verifying a magazine cover; having some of the TV spots he made in the 90's when he was a publicist shown in the movie; and in the last scene, 'El Chivo' names the dog he rescued (formerly known as Cofi) as 'El Negro', Iñarritu's nickname.
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A Movie about life choices and its conclusions, Disturbing, Intense
It's a life-changing experience. Movie is highly violent, disturbing, harsh and intense, which is necessary too since the characters' upbringing lead them to that. It's so exceptionally well created that one little action creates a havoc in the lives of 3 different people, people who have no relation with each other. It seems relatable now considering how single pandemic Corona virus is changing peoples lives mostly for bad. I would not recommend this movie to anyone since it's highly disturbing and insanely violent and depressing. However, would suggest them to watch at their own risk. It's a little too stretched too, however, is fast paced no doubt.
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Do dogs have personal characters? Or they just try to be loyal to their owners? What if they reflect our personalities by means of their loyalty?
CihanVercan11 October 2009
Thanks to contributors, plot synopsis has been very well written. Amores Perros is included in the most important movies for the beginning of the 21st century. It marked a new epoch with its thoroughly life-like vision on a twist of fate. Then in a 5 years' of time within more recognized movies, we started seeing similar plot schemes telling different stories over accidents that binds each person's fate. One of them was Crash, and it won the best picture Oscar in 2005.

The more you see this film over and over again you'll get to a deeper point where the lives and choices of the characters won't matter any more. It's still affecting in the first-time watch, but with an examining view the next time you see it; you're driven into a vision, a cast of mind.There were 3 main characters and 3 main stories from each one, which are nested altogether. If we look at these stories over the characters' relationships with their dogs, it's intriguing. As if the dogs exemplify their owners:

1' Young loafer Octavio commits crime in order to earn money to make a living. He fights his dog Cofi in dog-fighting tournaments. How Cofi needs to fight for his life, so does need Octavio to commit crime for his life.

2' In the second story, beautiful model Valeria receives a surprise gift from her fiancé to choose a puppy from a pet store. By time, the puppy gets used to live a super-luxury pet life; which is the same life style of her owner. Valeria and her fiancé's apartment unit is under a hardwood flooring construction. One day while alone at home the puppy falls into a gap between the hardwood and the concrete; thus stays stuck there and began to squawk, since she is not used to live without comfort. At the same day her owner Valeria gets involved in a car accident while driving alone, having no one to help her just as happened to her puppy. She loses her leg in this accident and her luxury life comes to an end, as same as the life of her puppy. She begins complaining like her puppy squawking.

3' In the last story, the grim hit-man El Chivo saves the life of Octavio's dog Cofi, after Octavio gets killed in the traffic accident in which Valeria lost her leg. Saving him changes Cofi's life, he no longer needs to fight for Octavio's bets on dog-fighting. His life becomes safe and peaceful. El Chivo starts looking after Cofi beside his other dogs. Among the other dogs Cofi looks very ugly and dirty. One day when El Chivo leaves the dogs together at home, Cofi kills every one of them. His reason of killing all the dogs explains why his owner is a hit-man. As Cofi killed innocent dogs; El Chivo kills innocent people for El Chivo seeing himself ugly,dirty and strange among the people; like his dog feeling himself ugly,dirty and strange among the dogs. El Chivo feels bad about his dogs, when he finds out Cofi has killed them. Yet, he feels worse about himself when he actually realizes that Cofi's attitude gave him a lesson of life. Then El Chivo shaves, cuts his beard and hair, gets cleaned up and turns out looking like a gentleman. Cofi's attitude changes his life; his life becomes safe and peaceful just as when El Chivo saved Cofi's life.

The vision we're getting when we compare these 3 stories is about the public loneliness of an individual. The only person, who can guide and who can help us, is ourselves. This loneliness brings our freedom of choices. With making our own choices, we build the essence of our character: Our quintessences. Life is sum of all our choices. In order to build our quintessences; we always face the risk, fear and pressure of the chance of making a wrong choice. Life makes it obligatory to make choices. This obligatory builds our inner crisis and develops our personality. To find the secrets of our own personality, we try to find someone or something else to lay a burden on the responsibility of self-search. Here in Amores Perros, the 3 main characters are used by their self-search reflection on their dogs.

Doesn't this vision form the idea of Jean Paul Sartre's "Being and Nothingness"? Since Amores Perros hides the character views through the situations created by dogs; it is a movie that has no characters, but only situations. This is the systematic of Existentialism. If there was no situation or happening, there wouldn't have been any characters. Existence precedes essence. A person is nothing without his actions. So, a person doesn't have a soul(or a character) if he is not alive. Then there wasn't and won't be anything before and after our lives.

If we don't believe in this vision, certainly the signs of fate that we come across in our lives must be delusion.
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Three stories, one great, one good, one bad
JesNollie4 January 2002
This film consists of three intertwining stories, all involving dogs, and all laced with violence. The first story we're shown, that of Octavio, is excellent. Definitely a "10". If the movie had stayed at this level it might have been the best film of the year, but the second segment is annoyingly bad. Totally ridiculous, bad acting, lame story. The third and final segment is very good. I would recommend seeing this film, but I'd also recommend fast forwarding through the second segment.
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Orale, guey!!!!!
camselle24 November 2003
A masterpiece. Plain and simple. This picture transcends any language and culture, making us all be able to relate to each of its characters. I don't buy the comparison to Pulp Fiction or any other work. The disregard of chronological scene order and intertwining storylines have been occuring in films for years. Its done for effect here, is all.

Alejandro Inarritu simply lets his actors take over and finishes off a puzzle that is almost complete as a result of the writing and acting. Not to denigrate his work, of course. After all, the ability to trust your actors and let them work is key to being a great director. BTY, more films need to be made in Mexico City, the largest in the world.
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LanaKane23 April 2001
This movie is a must-to-see if you can get over the 'subtitles' fact. (I didn't have no problems with it because I understand Spanish). Personally I was really impressed by the quality, perfection, and superb acting of this Mexican movie. The movie consists of three different stories connected by one sole incident. Sometimes you will see the same scene from a different point of view. Or you'll see an out of place scene that will make sense later on. The script was exquisite, very loyal to the culture. The direction was brilliant keeping us interested from beginning to end. And the performances were excellent, so natural and real that you felt as if they were people you knew. Be aware there's extreme violence in this movie, and even though there were kids in the theater I went to, this is not a family movie. I don't recommend it for children if you are a responsible parent. This movie deserves an award.
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As a director's film it is astounding but as a narrative it has it's highs and lows
bob the moo24 May 2004
A young man gets into the world of illegal dog fighting in order to get enough money together to be able to run away with his brother's wife, but in the meantime he starts tension with another dog owner. A beautiful young model signs a lucrative contract with a perfume company and moves into her new flat with her lover – only for her tragedy to strike and her dog to go missing. Finally an ex-convict and guerrilla mourns the wife he left decades ago and longs to meet the daughter who thinks he is dead – but is also contracted to kill a businessman. These three lives come together in a car crash that acts as a catalyst in changing their lives.

After seeing 21 Grams I knew that I had to get round to seeing this film. With it's appearance on TV (BBC4 showing itself to really be a 'place to think' and a wonderful channel to have) I took the opportunity to watch it, expecting a film that would match the good things I had heard about it. >From the opening car chase that results in the crash that the film spirals outwards from like debris, through for most of the first hour, I was hooked – the pace was great and the story gripping. It was violent, exciting and yet had a human element to it as well. However the second story knocked the wind out of it for a moment, and seemed to lack the emotion of the first. It was based around an urban myth of sorts and wasn't as good – even if it did pick up towards the end.

The third story saw it return to a much more involving story of pain and the grinding out of life (as in 'getting by'). Maybe it was the rich lifestyles of the characters in story two that stopped me caring as much – I don't know but I know that the contrast between one & two made it more obvious how much the pace had dropped – especially when we are left wanted to know what happened to the characters we had spent an hour getting to care about. Anyway, the third story is a satisfying ending to the film and drew me back in emotionally where the second story had cut me off by it's abrupt start. Story two finishes before story three begins, and therefore it was easier to move on.

I think the problem with this film for me was not the fact that three stories were intermingled but that I didn't think they were actually mixed well – the way the film moves away from characters before concluding their section (eg Octavia), the way the stories are actually quite separate from one another, these things and other I felt weakened the films – although each story was strong on it's own I just felt that story 2 was such a change to the film that it hurt it.

However, as a film debut this is an amazing piece of work and is relentlessly impressive. From the opening car chase to the dog fights to the silent pain of the model looking out where her image once hung – in all these different moments I thought he did a great job and visually the film was never dull once no matter if it was set in a penthouse flat or a basement of an old building with the blood of dead dogs. And while we're on the subject, at the time of release I heard critics say they walked out of the film, refusing to watch cruelty to animals even being simulated. I can see their point but also think that they missed the fact that the animals in the film are mostly loved (even if they mostly die!) – however it is love and compassion for other humans that the film shows the characters having difficulty with, and this is where the emotional impact of the film is – not in simulated dogfights, albeit very well simulated dogfights that are hard to hear even if they are mostly unseen.

The cast were all natural but I always find it hard to judge performances when they are not in English. Having said that, there were no bad performances in the whole thing – even if some have better material to work with than others. Of course I still think this is a director's film and the cast often take second place to the style and the feel of the film.

Overall I really enjoyed this film but don't believe it deserves to be considered one of the 'best films ever made™'! The opening hour is superb and it's pace is relentless (even in more sensitive moments) but the sudden stop the film makes when it changes to story two is too much to stand and really caused the film to stutter for me. It gets better and is fully back on track for story three but there are problems running all through the narrative. Even though it has a lower rating on IMDb at time of writing, I'd still say that 21 Grams offer this same fragmented style but with a much more satisfying narrative. Regardless of my nit picking I still think this is a powerful film that makes 150 minutes fly by with a huge amount of style from the first-time director, even if it does not live up to the endlessly gushing praise lavished upon it by many viewers.
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A film of two halves
mike_251121 May 2012
The first ninety minutes of so of Amores Perros is magnificent. It would maybe even qualify as one of the greatest films of all time. Gael Garcia Bernal is incredible, perhaps his best role, and the cinematography complements the plot perfectly, full of dark and dirty shots. The dog fighting is intense and particularly well shot. The characters are real, the acting is believable and nuanced, the plot goes at a fast pace and I was gripped.

Then the film changes course completely, to a film about a model and her unfaithful boyfriend who get caught up in the car crash. And the film dies right there. It becomes boring, stilted, uninteresting, and I found myself drifting away several times. The characters didn't intrigue me, the storyline was weak, and even when they brought the old man with the dogs and the beard into play it wasn't enough to save it. Watching the model cry 'Richie' over and over again while her dog was stuck under the floorboards bored the tears out of me, and it's a subplot and dialogue line that went on for nearly half an hour.

They had something really special here and ruined it. This should have been edited down and the latter plot lines should have become minor distractions if they were included at all. It's such a waste of the groundwork laid early on; a masterpiece turned into an average film. I only watched on in the hope I'd see the conclusion to the initial plot. Y Tu Mama Tambien, The Motorcycle Diaries and La Mala Educacian are all better than this as far as the classic Gael Garcia Bernal films go.
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Excellent Storytelling But Flawed
I was really looking forward to this as I had heard all the hype about it off IMDb and managed to get it in a DVD sale for £8. The only thing that put me off was that there was dog fights in it and I don't take kindly to watching animal cruelty in films. I know it's not real but it reminds me that it does happen in some countries and it's just a bit upsetting but I thought to myself 'it's only a movie and I am sure it won't take anything away from it' and thankfully it didn't. I liked the way they put in the beginning of the film reminding us that no animal was hurt during the course of the movie because people don't usually watch the credits at the end unless they really want to because that quote about the animals doesn't really come up till the very last bit of the credits but without it at the beginning then I am sure there would be a lot of very upset people. But back to the film Amores Perros is all about three different stories that come together through a car accident and we see how there lives are before and after the accident. We start off with Octavio who lives at home with his abusing brother, mother and his brother's girlfriend who he has taken a shine to. His brother is always on at him and smacks about his partner which doesn't like but knows he can do nothing about it unless he wants his legs broken. His story begins when his dog kills a champion fighting dog owned by a ruthless gangster of the town.

When Octavio realises that he can make some money with his dog fighting so he can escape the slums of Mexico City. But it's not so easy as he wants to take his brother girlfriend and her baby with him but she takes some convincing. The other story is to do with Valeria who is happy with her new lover who has just left his wife and kids for her but the terrible accident leaves her wheelchair bound and she loses her grip on wanting to enjoy her life and things start to become hard for her and her lover. But the only thing that is keeping her occupied is the love for her dog who accidentally gets trapped underneath the floor boards. Valeria worries as there are Rats down there and doesn't seem to find a way of getting the dog out and as this happens her conditions worsens with gangrene setting in. The last story is with El Chiro A homeless man with nothing in his life apart from his love for his own pet dogs. He also has a past that is hurting him deep inside as he is not allowed to see his daughter after he walked out on the family but now is ex wife is dead he tries to make up for what he has done with the his daughter but the family do it's best to keep him away and obsolete from her life.

The movie is very long and has a lot of unneeded scenes in it. I really wasn't taken in by the story of Valeria as it didn't seem very convincing and doesn't really go anywhere. You think it's just about to get interesting but at the last minute it has gone and it makes you feel whether they could have just cut out the entire screen as she doesn't make a difference. If I had it my own way then I would have kept the whole film focusing on Octavio and his dog Cofi trying their best to gather enough money to get out of there depressing lives and with El Chiro coming in in one or two scenes to make it a lot more interesting. This doesn't make Amores Perros a bad film just not a great one. You will go away thinking it could have been better or you will just plain love it but not watch it again. Its not the sort of film you go back and watch it again and again unless it intrigued you.

Another good solid foreign film that didn't hit all the marks but still very good.
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What's the big deal?
utzutzutz1 May 2001
Will someone please tell me what all the fuss is about? If the presence of gore is the gauge of cinematic skill, then yes, AMORES PERROS is a masterpiece. But surely one first-time director's fascination with maimed dogs and Mexicanismo does not a 21st-century film template make. Granted, it's a somewhat cleverly crafted story, but this blood-guts-passion trip through Mexico City fails to make any real point or leave the audience with much to ponder. (Though I did find myself contemplating how they managed to locate all those dead-dog body doubles for the live dogs...)

AMORES PERROS, which the film translates as "Love is a Bitch," might be better rendered "Love is Like a Dog," or "Some of These People Actually LOVE Dogs," or "If You Love Your Dog, Don't See This Movie." It opens with a truly gruesome car crash in which blood and guts swirl around liberally. If you happen to walk in late, never fear: the scene will replay twice more. With this event as the anchor, the film flashes back and forward on the lives directly and tangentially involved--what led up to this bloody wreck and how it affects all concerned.

Driving the offending vehicle is Octavio (Gael García Bernal), brother of the abusive Ramiro (Marco Pérez) and lover-in-waiting of his wife, Susana (Vanessa Bauche). Octavio's role is basically to hang around the house panting at his sister-in-law, until he decides to make money by entering Ramiro's vicious mastiff in dog fights. The car he's slammed into conveys supermodel Valeria (Goya Toledo), whose successful career ends on impact. She is mistress to Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero), who's gone middle-age crazy and separated from his wife to live with Valeria 24/7. The supermodel's true love, however, is her moplike Lhasa apso, Richie.

The triptych's third panel focuses on El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría), a former revolutionary. Imprisoned while his daughter was born, he has never met her, though he's remained obsessed with images of her for more than 20 years. He moons over her while alternately practicing his assassination skills and living with his own pack of canines.

AMORES PERROS is the debut film of director Alejandro González Inárritu, a Mexican DJ who's apparently seen PULP FICTION a few times. While it doesn't slavishly imitate Tarantino, it noticeably cops a few of his moves. Like a bad case of coffee nerves, the film functions best at high velocity and on razor's edge. There's plenty of speeded-up action, trick cuts, and always the threat of imminent gore. With many scenes rife with tension, AMORES often strays into telenovela territory, though it's tough to tell if the melodrama is intentional.

Yet, strangely enough, after all this adrenaline puts us on red alert, we are thrust into an extremely tedious middle portion, in which Valeria's dog gets trapped beneath floorboards and the hapless couple can't reckon how to retrieve him. Richie whines night after night, Valeria whines night after night, fights ensue, she stages a minirevolt from her wheelchair--and we're left with a yawning, "And your point is...."

Is love a bitch? Sure. Do people treat their loves like dogs? Sometimes. Is this a rich metaphor that bears 2 1/2 hours of graphically violent exploration? Not really. Does this represent, as raves the NEW YORK TIMES, "the first classic of the new decade"? I'd hate to think so.
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Brutally Powerful
commandercool8830 March 2007
'Amores Perros' is a shocking experience from visionary director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. It's a difficult film to watch, one which continuously challenges its audience, but a reward in of itself for those who can withstand its brutality. It puts a magnifying glass to the pain of love, and those who are destroyed by it. It gives new meaning to the film title's literal translation, 'love is a bitch'.

In a single moment in time, several lives in Mexico City will be changed forever by a devastating car crash. The film divides itself into three separate segments: representing the past, present, and future. Octavio is searching for recognition and love, but looks in the wrong places. It's a desire that drives him, leading him to make choices in life that will soon haunt him. Valerie, whose life is most impacted by the car accident, finds herself living in a relationship that's crumbling and self-destructing. El Chivo must deal with the absence of his daughter, and the void it's left in his life. He finds companionship in the dogs he picks up off the street, and they soon become the only living things he can connect with. Together, the lives of these individuals will collide in more ways than one. They will find themselves connected by a single thread: love. And the hell that can be unleashed with it.

When I finished watching 'Amores Perros', one of the first things that popped into my mind was why 'Babel' couldn't have been this good. Where 'Babel' lacked in emotional depths and highs, 'Amores Perros' at times finds itself drowning in it. It's a visceral and gritty film, so raw and intense. You may think you've seen it all, but 'Perros' will challenge even those who are rarely phased by cinema. You may find it difficult not to look away at times. Iñarritu's movie has been described as being a 'dog holocaust', and at times I can't disagree. The film's sheer violence is so penetrating and disturbing, it packs a mighty punch. And while this film is definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart, there's no question that 'Amores Perros' has a tender heart and message ready to be heard. Iñarritu crafts a compelling story from start to finish, which strips down to the bare basics. His ability to capture a piece of the human spirit is wondrous, even if it doesn't always cast us in the best light. It's dark, fierce, and relentless, but nothing short of greatness.

'Amores Perros' features an array of actors and actresses, all of which work wonders in their respective roles. Gael Garcia Bernal is, as always, brilliant. It's a more restrained and less quirky role than many are used to seeing him in, but nonetheless has the rare ability to capture and audience's attention with ease. Emilio Echevarria stars as El Chivo, and delivers a haunting performance as a man who finds himself alone and saddened. It's the weakest part of the film, but is made up for by Emilio's wonderful presence. Goya Toledo plays Valerie, a celebrity crippled by the accident the film revolves around. I found her part in the story to be most interesting, if not for the fact of seeing the life of someone who goes from having it all to nothing at all. There are many numerous performances, too many to cover, but they all lend their talents to create something extraordinary.

'Amores Perros' is an adrenaline rush for its entire running, which tops two-and-a-half hours. It's all a very human and primal film, which can be attributed to Iñarritu's impeccable style and talent. Combining a mutli-faceted story with electric performances, 'Perros' works on many different layers to satisfying results. An original and bold step in film-making, this nearly perfect picture will have you experience a collage of emotions, and invest in flawed characters... all for the sake of love.
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Inspiringly unpleasant!
ildimo187718 October 2010
A dense, overtly sophisticated, but never really wise, script by Mr. Arriaga gets the famed "Inarritu treatment" – otherwise known as "fanciful free fall in the arms of obsessive despair and educated repulsion". The "problem" with Amores Perros (also with 21 Grams and Babel) is you just can't ignore it. Or, to put it better, you'd feel some kind of terminal guilt (appropriately…) if you did. The three intertwining stories revolve ambitiously and high-poweredly around the theme of fatalism, on "love's a bitch" (more or less the title), on "brother against brother" religious motifs, on Kieslowski, Poe, a bit of Mexican-period Bunuel, and on a to-the-point requiem on Viva La Revolucion. In short however, this is a salute to the idea of "God laughing when people make plans". (To be honest, God laughs when people make movies about God). In any case, the only one laughing in Inarritu's humorless universe could be God, though I don't really see why He'd be so pleased in seeing his creatures miserable as hell (…). Obviously this is a vengeful divine presence overlooking the production of Amores Perros, a production stately (while recalling Mr. Babenko's 1981 Pixote) and, occasionally, inspiringly unpleasant. Undoubtedly a masterpiece for those who get their ideological kicks in non-American speaking filmmaking, an intriguing torture for the rest.
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You may enjoy it more, but I found Amores Perros to be a disappointment.
lewiskendell8 September 2010
"To make God laugh, tell him your plans."

I usually love these kinds of sprawling dramas about interconnected people, but I suppose there's an exception to every rule. Amores Perros is that exception, for me. It felt more like a 2 1/2 hour soap opera, than a riveting drama. 

The only story of the three presented here that somewhat interested me was that of Daniel and Valeria. The rest of my time with Amores Perros was spent wondering why none of these people have caller ID, wondering whether this movie set some kind of record for most fake dead dogs in a film, wondering who El Chivo reminded me of (Il Duce from Boondock Saints), wondering why they just didn't cover the darn hole (who leaves gaping holes in the middle of their apartment floor?), and trying to think up a name for the dog (never came up with anything I liked more than Lost Dog). Mostly, I was just bored. 

I've read other people describe this as a powerful movie. Unfortunately, it just didn't do much for me. I give it credit for breaking my heart over those gorgeous legs (a true tragedy, my friends), but that's about it.
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Everyone raves about this, but why??
Rob Cline19 May 2001
Well, I was really excited about seeing this one: stunning debut, the Mexican Pulp Fuction...

But, quite honestly, I was bored by about halfway through, and that didn't change before the end. Some nice touches throughout rescued it from being drudgery, but it just wasn't enough.

I normally like this sort of film, with separate stories suddenly coming together...but for that sort of film, the stories actually have to come together at some point. And they didn't, apart from a couple of random tenuous links that really aren't enough. If it's just meant to be three separate stories, they just needed more to them.

Sorry, I tried. Harsh but fair.
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glopglop6 May 2003
Having read all the hails on this feedback page I finally got myself the DVD. Alas, I must confess that while this movie might make some people gasp who have been on

Hollywood film-food for too many years, there is hardly anything that lifts this flick beyond what independent cinema has had on the menu for decades. Yes, the plot is all about human tragedies; yes, it incorporates first rate feelings such as love or loss; yes, it keeps you watching for more than 90 mins of your life BUT... What is the message? What new light does it cast on any aspect of our lives? While Amores Perros is certainly worth seeing, its impact vanishes within a day or two (unless you're some dogfight perv in which case you've definitely found your movie). Rather like some other latin american movies (I'm thinking of Y tu mama tambien, for example) this movie has great actors, great direction but lacks depth, meaning and relevance. All in all, Amores Perros is alright but so are hundreds of other movies. Don't get me wrong: IT IS A GOOD MOVIE but just don't expect a once-in-a-century-masterpiece (as hinted at in other people's comments on this page). Go see it if you've got the time or simply go bowling. Choose the latter if you want to lift your spirits.
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"Some heavy *$&^" or "Masters take after their dogs"
badtothebono13 August 2006
I'd like to rate it higher,but its has 3 episodes and the "Daniel y Valeria" episode is more annoying than anything else. So, 2 out of 3 is the best it could get.

According to Martin, "Masters take after their dogs". Octavio and Cofi. Both surrounded by crap and pushed to do dumb things. Both seem to be on top but both get taken out by something more dangerous than themselves. Both get a second chance at life and seem determined to screw that up too.

Valeria (a dumb blonde) and Ritchie (a dumb yap-yap dog). There's a pair. These two deserve each other. Both trapped in their own private holes. Sense(?) of a woman. Ritchie goes in a hole and won't come out. They put gourmet chocolates at the entrance to the hole to tempt him out. Still, no Ritchie. Valeria sees rats in the hole and thinks the rats ate Ritchie. Daniel says "let's put rat poison in there." Valeria says "No, Ritchie will eat it. "Hello? Blonde? He wouldn't eat the gourmet chocolates. Sense(?) of a woman. If you read this before seeing the movie, I'd recommend you fast forward through "Daniel y Valeria". You'll be more satisfied with the rest.

Martin and his dogs and then Cofi/Blackie? Here the master/dog theory falls apart. Surely, at the beginning they are all outcasts, scrounging out an existence. So, why do the dogs die, but Martin goes on. Perhaps here the point is that, in order for Martin, to be able to move ahead, his current life (his dogs) needs to be shattered.

And one hilarious scene, made all the more hilarious coming in the middle of so much tension and violence. I'll get it ... toss.
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Great Mexican Movie
alvarez-1111 August 2006
Of course I watched Pulp Fiction and when I first saw this movie, it was on TV on local station. Later bought DVD, and watched movie a couple of times and realized, in some way, that this film is even better than Pulp Fiction. It's more human than any US multi-plot-anachrono-psycho-thriller film that I ever watched. Acting is very intense, young Bernal and old Emilio especially, and the cohesion of the different-class stories is excellent. Also I must say that the tempo of a movie and soundtracks of the song are doing just in a right way. Comparing "Crush" to this masterpiece is like comparing Coldplay to Radiohead in rock music. Although I never saw a Mexican film before (only their moronic love-story series), I felt like I was right there in Mexico city, while watching. Brutal scenes for the first time in my life, make film more realistic, instead of making distance from the real life. Everybody is so edgy in this movie, but in a natural way. Great atmosphere, great film indeed.
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Not only is love a bitch but so is the length of this movie!
act196630 April 2001
This movie is 'okay'. It didn't blow me out of the seat like a number of other people. I found it one vignette too long and the character development a little over wrought. The friend I went with said that the movie would have been fine after the first couple's story had ended -- but it kept going and going and going...


IMHO, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was the far superior movie that year and deserved the Oscar. But I'm an Ang Lee junkie.
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A tribute to the self-destructive nature of mankind
torom-3535420 June 2021
Nothing in this film happens for no other reasons than bad decisions taken from the depth of the most negative emotions of our species. It's a portrait of how brilliant we are at just doing harm to ourselves while also having an impact on the lives of the people around us. A very good film, with good storytelling, good acting, good photography and good musics, which is a tribute to human unease.
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Mexico shows its face
danielll_rs7 June 2003
AMORES PERROS is a perfect companion to the excellent Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN as an example of how prolific Mexican cinema is. It was nominated for Best Film in a Foreign Language, but that was the year of the breathtaking epic CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.

Like our Brazilian pride CITY OF GOD, AMORES PERROS is violent but you just can't take your eyes off. Disturbing but compelling. A memorable experience.

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