AMORES PERROSdirected and produced by Alejandro González Iñárritu, written by Guillermo Arriaga, with Gael Garca Bernal, Vanessa Bauche, Emilio Echevarria, Alvaro Guerrero and Goya Toledo. 154 minutes. Opens Friday (April 27). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 79. Rating: NNN
amores perros translates
roughly as Love's A Bitch, and roughly is how this film does it.
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu barrels out of the gate of this Oscar-nominated work (best foreign-language film) with a car chase that's all sweat and smash cuts and ends in a crash of blood and bent metal. Then a nice trick happens. The crash ripples outward through the story, connecting strangers' lives in a split second of violence.
Iñárritu moves backward and forward in time from the moment of the crash, spinning three tales that all depend on reckless passion, Mexican fate and cruel dogs.
Iñárritu, a first-timer, is working from a script by Guillermo Arriaga, but he co-edits the film, which is important. Structure rules this movie, and without Iñárritu's dazzling confidence in his story's architecture, the thing would collapse like bad Tarantino.
The first story is a kitchen-sink potboiler where a young man yearns for his brother's wife. In the second, an injured model self-destructs. And in the third, a revolutionary-turned-assassin orchestrates his final gig. Those are the bare bones. But Amores Perros fleshes out its melodrama with lusty camera work, a counter-strain of macho melancholy and committed performances all around.
And dogs. A disclaimer fronts the film, insisting that animals were well treated. It's needed, because dogs are central characters in this movie and most of them fight for money.
Amores Perros pulses with the life of Mexico City. It's especially good at showing how nihilism and faith can coexist. It runs maybe half an hour too long, most of it in the middle, model story.
And it shows its debts to Pulp Fiction and Crash too readily. But it's an honest film, and almost never boring.