Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch)


Dir: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams)

Latin America loves Taratino! Pulpy set of intertwining tales involving lots of gunplay and gritty dialogue. This Mexican offering reminds one of the brilliant Brazilian film City of God, but less obsessed with the underworld. Amores Peros wants to have more to say about love and life, and in my mind suffers from a lack of focus and inability to connect the dots.

Three different tales are interrelated by one random moment. In the first, a young man falls in love with his older brother's wife. In the second, a model moves in with her married lover and immediately is disfigured in a car accident. In the third, a hobo pines for the daughter that he abandoned twenty years ago while moonlighting as a hitman. Each story shows promise, and could be a movie unto itself.

One uniting metaphor in the movie are dogs. Our first protagonist uses dog fighting as a means to make money and run away. The unabashed description of the dog pits makes no judgment on this cruelty, an example in my mind of cinematic realism carried needlessly far. But maybe that's a cultural thing. In the second, the model's young dog runs through a hole in the floor and hides underneath the new apartment, refusing to come out. That bit was the most interesting part of the movie; the director is very commited to that metaphor, making the second act a touch surreal and thought provoking. The hitman of the final act travels with a pack of dogs he has rescued. Each story has a different attitude toward the animals; utilitarian and cruel, dependent upon and standing in place of humans, and finally genuinely caring.

Much of the rest of the film, though, I found less well done. The love stories are a bit clunky, especially act II which has all of the subtlty of a sledgehammer. The whole film is gratuitously violent and needlessly cruel. And points for exploration of similar themes between the acts go unexploited.

Some nice things. People who like the non-linear storytelling method and films about the underworld will dig it. For me, good but not great.



Blogger ronvon2 noted on 2/14/2006 11:15:00 AM that...

What a Valentine's Day movie....