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Amores perros (2000)
Drama,Thriller
Spanish
"Love. Betrayal. Death. "
A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life's harsh realities, all in the name of love.
Luisa Geliz Secretaria Daniel (Daniel's Secretary)
Leoncio Torres El Pelón
Regina Abad Jimena
Adriana Islas Lina
Bruno Salgado Champignon
Adriana Varone Amante Luis (Luis's Mistress)
Gema Aparicio Empleada domestica (Maid) (scenes deleted)
Kazuyo Togawa Sra. gorda (Fat Lady) (as T. Kazuyo Togawa)
Carlos Samperio Hombre deshuesadero (Man at Junkyard)
Jean Paul Bierry Hombre junta (Man at Meeting)
Ángeles Marín Conductora de T.V. (TV Announcer)
Roberto Medina Conductor de T.V. (TV Announcer)
Ana María González Enfermera (Nurse)
Patricio Castillo Doctor
Hilda González Cajera (Cashier)
Edgar González Bebe Rodrigo (Baby Rodrigo)
Rodrigo Ostap El Jaibo (as Rodrigo Obstab)
Carlo Bernal Javier
Gustavo Muñoz El Chispas
Dagoberto Gama Alvaro
Gustavo Sánchez Parra Jarocho
Ricardo Dalmacci Andrés Salgado
Laura Almela Julieta
Lourdes Echevarría Maru
José Sefami Leonardo
Adriana Barraza Mama Octavio (Octavio's Mother)
Dunia Saldívar Mama Susana (Susana's Mother)
Rosa María Bianchi Tía Luisa (Aunt Luisa)
Gerardo Campbell Mauricio
Rodrigo Murray Gustavo
Humberto Busto Jorge
Marco Pérez Ramiro
Jorge Salinas Luis
Vanessa Bauche Susana
Álvaro Guerrero Daniel
Goya Toledo Valeria
Gael García Bernal Octavio
Emilio Echevarría El Chivo
Alma Rocío González Mujer junta (Woman at Meeting)
Mauricio Martínez Judicial (Judicial Police Agent)
Juan Manuel Ramos Policia (Policeman)
Ernesto Bog Hombre 1 (Man 1)
José Luis Barraza Hombre 2 (Man 2)
Jorge Arellano Niño cuidador 1 (Boy Caretaker 1)
Jonathan Herrera Niño cuidador 2 (Boy Caretaker 2)
Heriberto Castillo Extraño (Stranger
Producer: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Guillermo Arriaga
Lest the Dramatic Structure be Stillborn
True to the structure, Iñárritu attacks the subject of love with a multi-pronged approach, addressing three different stages, or complications, common in `love.' All three storylines represent the `struggling' aspect of love. It would be fair to say that Amores Perros, roughly translated to be `Love's a Bitch,' makes the ultimate statement, `Love is a struggle.' More specifically, however, Octavio's narrative can be most suitably seen as the `hunt for love' and acquisition or fight for it. To be with his love, Susana, he must overcome both the fact that his brother is married to her and the fact that his dreams of leaving the city are hamstrung by his less than admirable socio-economic state. Daniel and Valeria, who are about fifteen to twenty years Octavio and Susana's elders, represent love's most frustrating peak - when one is already in it and wants or needs to get out, for better of for worse. Daniel is trying to get out of a marriage in which he has kids to be with the supermodel, Valeria, a woman whose meaning to him is ultimately superficial. El Chivo, whose story is a perfect compliment to Daniel's, represents distance and alienation from love, inwardly looking at it from the outside. He has abandoned his family twenty years prior to become a guerilla terrorist and now operates as a vagabond hit man. It would be difficult to look at these three different `stages' of love in a classically structured film. The episodic structure eases us between each stage, at no point forcing us to tolerate the unrealistic concept of one couple going through all of these stages. Breaking it up into three different narratives, each revolving around different characters, presents the audience with the ability to view each story as independent the others, a more pervasive perspective.

However, this film is not a simple three-part love story. In Amores Perros, violence is akin to love. Each character displays this brutally: El Chivo leaves his love to be a terrorist; Octavio engages his dog in violence and even attempts murder to provide money for his love; Daniel and Valeria's relationship is verbally and nearly physically volatile to the point where they hate each other. Each character's love for another character is manifested in their violent acts. This is an interesting theme considering the paradoxical relationship between love and violence, one of which is the induction of harm, the other which is the polar opposite. This juxtaposition of love and violence, if for no other reason, is meant to show the impulsive nature of love. We take it for granted as a compassionate, helping characteristic of life but Iñárritu reveals his characters through this juxtaposition, allowing the audience to consider the consequences of love that are otherwise unforeseen.

Iñárritu does a lot of things right in this film. Mainly, he keeps us in constant suspense through the causality of the plot, forcing us to anticipate the results of the characters' actions. This causality can be as brazen as Octavio's decision to stab Jarocho, inevitably leading one into apprehension over what will happen to Octavio. Less obviously, however, is the way he creates suspense around Daniel and Valeria. Their whole relationship is characterized by conflict. While this makes for good dialogue, it insists upon a boiling point - one that is anticipated throughout the entire length of their chapter. Likewise, there is delicate suspense over what Valeria's disfigurement will mean for their relationship. Not only is Daniel forced to confront whether or not Valeria's beauty is the only thing keeping them together, but Valeria must adjust to living without her beauty. Suspense revolves around El Chivo from the moment he first comes onto screen. We see him. He murders someone. We're back to the story of Octavio. The entire first two hours of the movie beg of an answer as to who this man is and what he has to do with the subject of the film. We later find out, not only does he have everything to do with it; he makes the film, seeking redemption on behalf of every other love-torn character. The type of monologue Emilio Echevarria's character, El Chivo, delivers at the end of the film would have a completely different meaning in a film without an episodic structure, in which case he would only be seeking redemption for himself. However, the way Iñárritu cross cuts between El Chivo and the other characters, in all their woe - the consequences of their actions, applies greater meaning to El Chivo's words and actions in the final scene.

Perhaps where we get some of the most important information about the characters, and Amores Perros as a whole, is through what is representative. Iñárritu makes steady use of symbols and motifs throughout the film, some of which work well, lending themselves nicely to the dramatic structure of the film, others failing to enhance the story. For example, the massive Enchant billboard looming above Valeria's apartment like the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg is one of the more lackluster motifs in the film. First, we are unavoidably asking, `Why they would want to live under that thing in the first place? Second, the removal of the billboard coinciding with the fall of Valeria's career, Daniel's self-assurance, their relationship, whatever you want to intuit, is much to explicit for this film. The more understated motifs such as the recurring telephone ring, `Bueno?.Bueno?' someone always answers, come off better. This repetition is telling of the deception and unfaithfulness rampant in this world. It works. Another representative device that supplements the story is how the dogs act as metaphors for their respective owners. El Chivo's dogs are the very embodiment of him. They are all strays much the same way he is a vagrant. Cofi, Octavio's rottweiler is equivalent to Octavio in his impulsive and aggressive behavior. This is displayed in Cofi most notably during the fight scenes, but we see it particularly in Octavio when he head-butts his brother, Ramiro, and when he stabs Jarocho in the stomach and thereby provoking the car chase. Valeria's dog, Richie, is lost under the floorboards, confined for most of this narrative. Valeria is physically much the same way, confined to her wheelchair. More implicitly, she is confined to a life that has been propped up around her by people who idolize, envy, or lust after her. Valeria's death is also parallel to her dog's death in that they both die from their respective internment, Valeria being trapped in a room and too immobile to save herself, Richie trapped in the floor and too exhausted to fend off armies hungry rats. The motifs and metaphors within each narrative help structure them as self-contained bodies.

The episodic structure of Amores Perros could have been damaging to the film had it not been for the inspired way the stories overlap only so much as to not exasperate the audience. In the three stories, rarely does a character from one interact with a character from another, outside the unifying car crash scene. There are truly only two occurrences: when El Chivo, sword in hand, scares off a frustrated Jarocho who plans to sic his dog on one of El Chivo's, and when Valeria appears on a Mexican morning show broadcast into Octavio's home the morning of the accident. This interaction was all that was needed for Amores Perros to be successful as an episodic film. Its structure lends itself well to subject matter and storyline. Iñárritu tells it to us this way; the literary devices at use bring it to life and its structure gives it legs to move. Throughout it, so well crafted, one can mentally fuse all three stories together and see one single character going through the process of fighting for love, realizing what a trivial pursuit it is, abandoning it, and then spending the rest of his life trying to touch it from behind the bars self-guilt.

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Imdb rating: 8.2
Musician: Gustavo Santaolalla
Running time: 154 min
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Last modified: 2008-01-02 12:11:26