on 15 April 2006
I rented this DVD to help with my Spanish studies, and because it was one of several I'd vaguely seen the name of in the media.
If I'd read the most recent reviews of it here, I probably wouldn't have watched it - and if I'd turned off in the first few minutes (as I felt like doing) because of the dog fighting, I'd have missed one of the best films I've seen in a long time.
I'm not going to break the story down for you - just to say that the negative reviews I've just read here have infuriated me into writing a note of my own. I love animals, I'm one of these idiots who ends up feeding the local strays every time I go on holiday - but not everyone does.
If you're looking for something pink and fluffy to watch, then don't watch this. It's gritty, highly moralistic but also a rollercoaster of love, lust, fear, heartbreak and adrenaline, with some fantastic, realistic characters thrown in for good measure. Try it... Next on my list are more by the same director.
on 16 December 2009
I am 29 years old and have probably sat through well over 1000 films, this still sits within my top 10. Acting, pace, storyline, viewer's emotions are all stuffed hurridly into a washing machine and put into spin. The film, as is well documented, is split within 3 stories with some overt themes being shared to interconnect them. Ignore the poor reviews on amazon, I have read them all and they comprise of:
"I switched it off because of the dog-fighting". Get a grip, it's not real.
"Unrewarding blah blah" by one budding pretentious film crtic. Not high-brow enough apparently(!)
Buy it, it is a must have for anyone. Toning it down to satisfy the popcorn-Hollywood induced crowd would've ruined the films gritty, unpolished feel which heightens its realism.
The smattering of awards which 'clog up' the case are all richly deserved.
on 28 October 2004
How do you rate a really good film? For me, the litmus test is whether I'm still thinking about it days after I've watched it.
I originally bought this film as I am one of the few people who have only recently been made aware of the great talent of Gael Garcia Bernal. Ok, so he's quite easy on the eye, but the characters of Octavio (Gael), Valeria and Chivo take you on a rollercoaster of a ride as you follow their stories of love and the ensuing pain associated with it. Three stories beautifully written and brilliantly woven together, this film is character driven and boy do you feel you've journeyed with them.
I wholly recommend this film, there wasn't any customer review and I bought it on a whim and Im glad I did. So good, I even wrote a review about it. Muy bien!
on 9 February 2005
This is a story about pain and loss. Don't buy or rent this film if you are looking for Bridget Jones with subtitles and not one to let your teenage kids watch while you go down the pub.
The manner in which the brutality is portrayed in this film makes it horrific and demonstrates to the viewer the full consequences of the violence in a way no Hollywood film has ever done. It traces several seemingly unconnected storylines that are pulled together with ruthless vigour, leaving you stunned at the climax.
...tell Him your plans"
This phrase is uttered at an important stage of this superb film by one of the main female characters to her lover and this is the underlying theme linking together the three threads of the storyline of "Amores Perros". All of the main characters are driven off the straight and narrow path by love ,lust, jealousy and greed and their plans for the future are mocked as their lives become cursed by misfortune and tragedy.
The fulcrum of the plot of "Amores Perros" ("Love is a Bitch" or perhaps "Love is Damned" depending on your translation) is a car crash which links together three separate stories. The first story is about an affair between one brother and his brother's wife set against the vicious background of fierce dog-fights, bank robberies and car chases, the second is about an ill-fated relationship between a supermodel and an adulterous magazine editor and the third is about a former guerilla turned vagrant/assassin who lives in solitude with his dogs , traumatised by his family break-up ,focusing all his love on the daughter who has been told he is dead.
"Amores Perros" is similar in structure and atmosphere to films like "Pulp Fiction" , the "Three Colours" trilogy and "21 Grams". The cinematography and soundtrack is first rate as is the acting and characterisation. It is a very powerful, visceral film which grips the viewer throughout and I liked particularly its clever use of the "dog" symbolism , where the main characters took on the characteristics of their dogs and vice-versa. This symbolism was at its most exquisite in the second story when the model's fluffy lapdog gets trapped under the floorboards with rats, paralleling the fall from grace of its homewrecking owner. I also liked the disjointed structure of "Amores Perros" ,fluctuating around the pivotal car crash between the present, past and future ,slowly tying all the different strands of the film together. A really top quality film on all levels.
on 21 December 2006
This is a film that is going to get at least a few peoples backs up before they have even allowed it to get going, as it treats something in a not unsympathetic manner that most people (this reviewer included) would regard as the very definition of cruelty to animals, namely organized dog fighting. However, give it a chance and you will rapidly find yourself drawn into the worlds of a series of interconnecting characters who's dogs have much to teach them about life and love.
Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who followed this up with the equally critical lauded and fractured 21 Grams, this is a film in 3 acts, each act connected by a bone crunching car crash, the very start of the film. From here, by shifting backwards, forwards and sideways in time we get to see the events leading up to the car crash and the tragic fallout of the crash itself. In one car is Octavio, who has been entering his dog in the aforementioned fights in order to raise enough money so that he can run away and start a better life with his sister-in-law Susana. In the other car is Valeria and her pet pooch, a model who is fast becoming a superstar and has just moved into an apartment with her lover Daniel, who has left his wife for her. And one of the witnesses of the crash is El Chivo, a former professor turned revolutionary who is living on the streets with his pack of stray dogs following a lengthy jail term and hiring his services out as an assassin. All three of them are due to learn important lessons from their dogs.
Written by Guillerma Arraiga, who also wrote 21 Grams and the superb 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada, this is the kind of film that Quentin Tarantino might have made Pulp Fiction into if he had been as interested in real people as he was in super-hip dialogue and interesting film-making techniques (and before you all get started, I am not saying that Pulp Fiction is a bad film). Every character, from the 3 leads to the plethora of supporting turns feels real, a flesh and blood human being with needs and fears, but of particular note must be Emilio Echevirria as El Chivo, a shaggy tramp with hidden depths and a lethal past, and Gael Garcia Benal as Octavio, the slum kid with big dreams, who is as compelling an actor as you are ever likely to see. Infused with an almost documentary style immediacy thanks to the hand held camera-work, Inarritu handles the non linear structure of the film with aplomb and verve, and can shift with ease from raw, on the streets violence to the hang-ups of the upper middle class. On the strength of this and his follow up 21 Grams he is a director to be embraced and cherished.
on 7 June 2006
I couldn't get this movie out of my mind. The unforgetable characters meet in shocking way. At times the plot is a little confusing as it shifts from present to past and back, but I was glued to my seat.
on 28 February 2002
When Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction beat out Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colours Red to win the Cannes Palme D'Or in 1994, the prophets of cinema, sensing a moment of significance, decried that all was lost, that the Cannes jury had given carte blanche to the post-modern inmates starting to deconstruct the asylum. Seven years later, this new Mexican feature may be the first film to confound the critics by being influenced by both those films and yet retain its own distinct textures. Its three tales of love, loss and dogs in Mexico City have enough sex and violence and people doing fantastic and terrible things to one another's bodies to remind one of the American cinema, but - as with the Three Colours movies - keep coming back to the small group of people whose lives we have become involved with.
The three tales are chosen to illustrate different kinds of love: neither the second, nor the third story comes close to matching the high-octane blood-sweat-and-tears of the first - in which dog-fighters tangle in a domestic tug-of-love - but then repetition doesn't seem to be high on Inarritu's agenda, and one of the reasons Amores Perros works as an impressive calling-card is that each of the pieces is very different in look and tone, allowing the debut director to prove himself as capable of handling a hip Tarantinoid crime segment as he is a melancholic Kieslowski-esque chamber piece. The second story, which starts with a decoy romance between a Cindy Crawford lookalike model and a Richard Gere-like matinee idol, is mostly confined to the model's dream apartment (which gets more and more beaten up as the film goes on) and has the ring of a Raymond Carver short story on love; the third story follows a tramp hitman known as "The Goat" but so removed from the world he's more of a ghost, with a wrinkle for every job and dirt so far under his fingernails that it's never coming out, as he goes about the city's scrapyards and rubbish dumps and tries to make up with his daughter.
The mood throughout is equal parts hopeful and pessimistic. If this is what we're prepared to do to man's best friend, Inarritu posits, what, then, are we liable to do to loved ones and strangers? Man himself gets down on all fours, is chained to a post, sits in front of the TV with his tongue hanging out, and goes for the throat of his fellow man in dark alleyways. The hitman is not the only character to care for his dog, but the only one who learns anything from animal behaviour: everyone in the end gets more or less what they deserve, though it's a sign of how much the writer and director have brought you into their world that you might ponder, long after the end credits, the fate of the unborn baby in the film's first part.
After last year's outstanding Magnolia, this is another ensemble piece perfectly realised, swapping frogs for dogs, but sharing Paul Thomas Anderson's fondness for telling little details tacked into the corner of the big cinema frame (it would seem one of the brothers in the final story is dating the woman who features on a poster in the bedroom of one of the brothers in the first episode) and it's here - in watching someone cutting their toenails (a quotidian act, but so rarely filmed) - you sense Inarritu's eye for detail. He also knows how to punctuate a movie for maximum effect: unlike Tarantino's breathless stream of words and deeds, each story here has at least one pause (paws?) for thought before the lights come back on, a crucial time and space for reflection. The final image, too, is of one man and his dog, walking through the darkness to find light at the end of the world: there is no full stop, no bullet point here - the film may end, but the quest for the meaningful companionship of any species goes on.
on 8 April 2015
OK the film overall is well produced and well acted. A great deal of thought has probably gone into the way the three threads of the film are interwoven.
lt is however unremittingly bleak as other reviewers have observed. I dont know if you can truly describe a film as 'gritty realism' if it is virtually all devoted to characters who are either cruel or selfishly pursuing means of satisfying their own desires. The most complex character is probably the former revolutionary turned hired killer who does at least show some humanity and compassion even if it is mainly reserved for his dogs.
l know it is relatively easy to be compassionate and preach morality in an affluent society, and l dont want all films to be anodine tinseltown pap, but equally films that deal with tough subjects and impoverished communities don't have to concentrate solely on the uglier side of human nature.
l've not read any explanations of the directors main intentions in depicting these stories in the way he has. The title 'Love's A Bitch' may therefore be tongue in cheek as there is no real expression of selfless love in the main characters this film follows.
lf there is actually an intended message that selfless love between humans is impossible then the film is even bleaker than l thought.
ln summary more likely to appeal to followers of for example the violence-laden films of Quentin Tarantino than someone looking for any kind of uplifting experience.
As with all art forms it is ultimately subjective whether you find this offering a rewarding experience or not. I cant say that l am motivated to watch it again despite being able to appreciate some of its technical qualities.
on 22 September 2001
I was dragged along to the cinema by my movie fanatic friend to see this mexican film - and was suprised and rewarded by an interesting and complex character driven film. It revolves around three stories of relationships that are loosely interlinked by a car crash. The format is very similiar to that used in 'pulp fiction'. The direction, performances and script are all first class, and it hard to believe that this is a directorial debut as it is shot with such professionalism and focus. This film does have some violent sections in it, and there are scenes of viscous dog fights - though we are told that no animal was harmed during filming.
The film does have a lot to say, though I found it to have a rather bleak message overall - wherever there is love there is the possibility (more like a certainty) of pain and loss. The only flaw of this film is that it is shot so well you almost admire the craftmanship involved more than the powerful messages it also sucessfully conveys!
A film to admire and make you think - definitely a buy!