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[Short Reviews]


A movie that starts with the claim that no animals were harmed in its making suggests that said animals might be more sympathetic than its human characters. For much of Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s prolonged, brilliant debut, Amores perros (translated as " Love Is a Bitch " ), that is indeed the case; after a while, though, the humans grow almost as likable as, if more vicious than, their pets.

A triptych of stories of dog owners set in a Mexico City that makes the metropolis of Luis Buñuel’s Los olvidados look quaint, Amores opens in medias mess as a car containing two fleeing youths and a bleeding rottweiler collides with another containing a model and her pampered Lhasa apso. From there the tales flash backward and forward, straddle social classes, and casually intersect. Young punk Octavio (Gael García Bernal) tries to make enough money fighting the family dog in order to run off with his even more brutish brother’s abused wife; wealthy, weary businessman Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero) dumps his family for a trophy wife, a new condo, and her spoiled pooch, Richie; and the Biblically bearded, homeless El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría) hovers over every intersection with his cart, machete, and pack of stray dogs. Some have compared Iñárittu’s two-and-a-half hour epic with the work of Quentin Tarantino — fair enough given the structure and stylistic sass. Unlike Tarantino, though, Iñárittu draws his people and places from life, not other movies, and in terms of psychological and philosophical depth and insight he’s closer to Krzysztof Kie<t-70>´<t$>slowski.

By Peter Keough

Issue Date: April 12-19, 2001