Amores Perros

(2000) *** R
153 min. Lions Gate. Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu. Cast: Emilio Echevarria, Gael Garcia Bernal, Goya Toledo, Alvaro Guerrero, Vanessa Bauche.

Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch) was the International Critics' Week Grand Prize Winner at Cannes, the twice-screened, twice sold-out closing night showcase for Cinequest, and Mexico's nominee for Best Foreign Film at this year's Oscars, and it's easy to see why. Amores Perros is a slickly produced godchild to Pulp Fiction's arch, hip, and ironic narrative, intertwining three stories and connecting a large cast of characters.

The thematic connection is dogs, with the suggestion, perhaps, that we all lead dogged lives. One story follows a love triangle comprised of a woman and two brothers, and their questionable sources of income. One brother is a holdup artist, while the other collects winnings by letting their dog fight in a pit as bets are placed. The second leg of the film details the bizarre turns in the life of a couple turning their "affair" into a legit relationship (trauma ensues). The final third focuses on a grubby, mysterious hit man slowly deciding to make an attempt to reclaim his abandoned former life.

The story is well-performed by an ensemble cast including Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, Goya Toledo, Álvaro Guerrero, Vanessa Bauche, and Jorge Salinas. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu comes to films by way of music videos, though the visual style, with its oversaturated color scheme and frequently handheld camerawork, most resembles Steven Soderbergh's recent work. Overall, the film's mordant humor is its best asset. Though you may question its two-hour-plus running time, you're not likely to regret seeing Amores Perros.

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