Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's striking Amores Perros
is the film Pulp Fiction
might have been if Quentin Tarantino were as interested in people as movies. A car crash in Mexico City entwines three stories: in one car is Octavio, who has been entering his dog in fights to get enough money run off with his sister-in-law Susana; in the other car is Valeria, a supermodel who's just moved in with her lover Daniel, who has left his wife for her. As Valeria struggles to recover from her injuries her beloved dog is lost under the floor of the new apartment. Professor-turned-revolutionary El Chivo, who has been living as a derelict/assassin after a long prison sentence, rescues Octavio's injured dog from the crash. All three learn lessons about their lives from the dogs.
Amores Perros opens with chaos, as Octavio and a friend drive away from the latest dogfight with the injured canine on the back seat and enemies in hot pursuit, then hops back, forward and sideways in time. It's a risky device, delaying crucial plot information for over an hour, but the individual stories, which weave in and out of each other with true-life untidiness, are so gripping you'll be happy to go along with them before everything becomes clear. Inarritu is a real find, a distinctive and subtle voice who upends all your expectations of Mexican filmmaking by shifting confidently from raw, on-the-streets violent emotion to cool, upper-middle-class desperation. A uniformly impressive cast create a gallery of unforgettable characters, some with only brief snippet-like scenes, others--such as Emilio Echevarria as the shaggy tramp with hidden depths--by sheer presence.
On the DVD: The anamorphic presentation, augmented for 16:9 TV, is of a pristine print and shows off the imaginative cinematography (with non-removable yellow English sub-titles). The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 and there are 15-minutes' worth of additional scenes with commentary by Inarritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga (evidently the surviving trace of an entire feature commentary available on a Mexican DVD release), explaining why they were cut. With a behind-the-scenes featurette, a poster gallery, three related pop videos (two by Inarritu) and the trailer (and trailers for other Optimum releases) the special features offer a more than adequate addition to Amores Perros. --Kim Newman
Centred around three different stories, this film is set in the heart of the troubled and ever-changing Mexico City. Octavio is unlucky in love and has a major crush on Susana, who is married to his abusive brother Ramiro; Daniel is a successful editor who has left his wife and kids to live with Valeria, a supermodel, in her penthouse apartment; whilst El Chivo is an ex-con turned hitman who is being paid to kill a rich businessman, against the wishes of his scared young girlfriend.