A retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior - both of which still haunt him decades later.
Juan José Campanella
Three interconnected stories about the different strata of life in Mexico City all resolve with a fatal car accident. Octavio is trying to raise enough money to run away with his sister-in-law, and decides to enter his dog Cofi into the world of dogfighting. After a dogfight goes bad, Octavio flees in his car, running a red light and causing the accident. Daniel and Valeria's new-found bliss is prematurely ended when she loses her leg in the accident. El Chivo is a homeless man who cares for stray dogs and is there to witness the collision. Written by
Must've beaten Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the Academy Awards
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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