Amores Perros is the debut feature from editor-producer-director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, and it is that rarest of features that shows a deep understanding of people, truly cinematic storytelling technique and brilliantly choreographed fight and chase scenes. It makes the crime movies that have emerged from the United States in recent years look pathetic and shameful in comparison, which manage to be less intelligent and less exciting than any one of the three stories told here. Inarritu also manages to cover more ground and do it with more style and certainty than many filmmakers twice his age.
The film consists of three stories about love, loss, and dogs, which weave in and out of a film that feels epic, but couldn’t be more personal. There’s a boy in love with his brother’s wife and makes money on dog fights, dreaming of running away with her. A model who gets injured after her boyfriend leaves his wife, and whose dog becomes trapped under the floorboards of their new apartment. An ex-revolutionary turned hit man who lives in an abandoned building with his dogs and exacts his own justice as he pines for his lost family.
This is not a film for the faint of heart. There are brutal dogfights, car chases, shootings, and the threat of violence and danger hangs over almost every frame of the film. It is also filled with affection for its characters who desperately cling to love and each other in the hopes that they will be able to control their own destiny. They can’t, each discovers, but the best of them can make do.
The cast in uniformly excellent, and I would be shocked if we never saw them again. The soundtrack is amazing. Without looking or feeling cheap and low budget, the film manages to convey the grittiness of the city and peoples’ lives, and the coincidences that can occur even in a city the size of Mexico City.
This is the kind of film that people lament Hollywood not making anymore. A film with violence and action and real people that refuses to talk down to its audience and is willing to risk being offensive.