|Pick of the Week:|
Reviewed by Ivana Redwine
Tagline: "Love. Betrayal. Death."
Length: 153 minutes
Pursued by gun-wielding thugs, a car driven by a young man speeds through the streets of Mexico City. In his back seat lies a badly bleeding dog. Running a red light, the young man’s car crashes hard into a vehicle driven by a woman.
This is the exciting opening of "Amores Perros," a Spanish-language movie that was a big hit at film festivals, and when I watched it recently on DVD, I could certainly see why: I loved it! Based on what I’d read, I was expecting a cool film with choreographed violence and maybe some sort of a puzzle to be solved. But what I saw was a fairly straightforward movie that relies on raw human emotions for its impact, and it really packs a wallop.
The automobile accident that opens "Amores Perros" is the point at which three interrelated stories intersect. All of the stories are about some form of love, and all involve dogs in some way. The film has a dramatic unity that kept me enthralled throughout.
The first story centers around Octavio (Gael Garcia), the young man driving the car. We learn that he loves his brother’s teenage wife, and he has been entering the badly bleeding dog in fights to get money to run away with her. The second story is about the woman driving the car that Octavio slams into. She is a leggy top model named Valeria (Goya Toledo), and the injuries she receives are so severe they will change her life forever. The third story is about a disillusioned bum called El Chivo (Emilio Echevarria) who happens to be present at the scene of the accident. He rescues the injured dog that was in Octavio’s car, and this eventually leads El Chivo to be able to face life with renewed hope.
I found the commentary track by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga to be pretty interesting. They speak in Spanish, so I had to follow most of their commentary by way of English subtitles. They say the dogs were muzzled with cords during the fight sequences so they couldn’t bite each other. In the featurette "Los Perros" a dog trainer shows what the muzzles were like. But Gonzalez Inarritu admits that anesthetic was used on the dogs, sometimes repeatedly, to make them look dead. Makeup was applied to make them look badly injured.
I thought the 17 minutes of deleted scenes were well worth seeing since there’s some information there about Valeria and her lover that makes some of their actions more understandable. The commentary by Gonzalez Inarritu and Arriaga on the deleted scenes is worthwhile, too.
The DVD contains three Spanish-language music videos, and I didn’t much like any of them. A particularly weird one is "Amores Perros de Perros Amores" by Control Machete in which people go to a peep show to see dogs have sexual intercourse.
I thought it was fun that there’s a sort of an Easter egg following the movie’s end credits that comes up only when the commentary is turned on. The screen displays a humorous description of Gonzalez Inarritu, characterizing him as "unsuccessful tennis player, frustrated musician, mediocre soccer player, closet priest, terrible student, jingle and film score composer, rock concert promoter, director of TV commercials." Well, maybe, but in his debut as a film director he’s made an absolutely terrific movie, and I can’t wait to see the films he’s going to direct in the future.
Selected Special Features on the DVD:
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