Amores Perros [subtitled]

Amores Perros

Amores perros means Love’s a Bitch, though this Mexican crime drama involves a lot of dogs, so the title also presumably alludes to “bitch” in that sense.

I’ve seen this movie compared in style to the work of Quentin Tarantino, but that’s not a connection I would have made, at least not in terms of something like Pulp Fiction. I think of Tarantino as campy, satirical, clever with dialogue, and arguably annoyingly cutesy and pretentious. Amores perros strikes me as much more straightforward, heavy stuff. Maybe a little closer to Reservoir Dogs, but even that I think is a stretch.

This movie is structured like Tickets, in that there are three, minimally overlapping, stories. The first has to do with two brothers fighting over the same woman, and fighting over the profits won by their dog through dog fights. The second is about a model whose life and career are devastated when her leg is shattered in a car accident. The third is about a former guerrilla who now wanders around town looking as lost and scraggly as a homeless person, but who picks up cash doing jobs—up to and including murdering people—for local criminals.

It’s an unusually long movie, about two and a half hours. The first of the three stories drew me in the most; I felt myself clearly fading and losing interest in the other two. I’m not sure if the first one is really the best, or if it was just the fatigue factor. Two and a half hours of subtitles is tough for me.

Given the descriptions I read in advance, I was expecting there to be even more violence, and for it to be more graphic. Certainly there’s violence in the movie, and it’s disturbing to a degree (some viewers will especially struggle with the dog fighting scenes), but the violence didn’t stand out to me in quantity nor in intensity and effectiveness compared to various other movies I’ve seen lately.

The characters seem to me fairly well drawn, in that I could keep track of who’s who, and they’re at least somewhat interesting to follow. Certainly the film doesn’t have the feel of a mainstream American violent movie, where the bulk of the characters are empty and just serve the purpose of being where they need to be in the story to generate the exciting gun battles and car chases and such. But none of the characters stood out to me in a big way; none of them are particularly likable and caused me to root for them.

I don’t know. I had the sense all along that I was watching a well-made, intelligent movie. I’m not surprised Amores perros got as much praise as it seems to have from reviewers. But on the other hand, subjectively it just didn’t hit me all that hard or hold my interest all that well. I liked it some; it wasn’t a dud by any means. But as “three stories in one” movies go, I enjoyed Tickets significantly more.

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