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Amores Perros: Love’s Bitches

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Dog-fighting is a terrible sport. So is Love. The juxtaposition of the two, and the scrabbling, lustful existence in the ubercities of the world constitute the subject matter of the Oscar-nominated “Amores Perros”.

Alejandro González Iñárritu applies his skilful crosscutting of multiple stories, arcs of intent and fluidity of time, also seen in his film “21 Grams”. The inter-related stories unfold around the focal point of a horrendous car accident in Mexico City, involving a young, unemployed male on the run from a dog-fight gone bad, a model who has perhaps found true love, and an assassin with a love for dogs.

These three people are social constructs, representative of different experiences of life in the city. Rosario, the young man, is emblematic of disaffected youth, rootless, looking for meaning, amoral. He is lustful for his sister-in-law, even showering her with the winnings from the blood-money he earns from his dog-fights. This buys him naught, however, when his brother, a Wal-martian, wife-beater, and small-time gangster, decamps with his family, and the money, after a beating from the dog-gone mafia, or is that mafia-gone-dog?

Valeria, the model, represents a different Mexico, one of glitz and glamour. She typifies, through her ill-fated love affair, the impermanence of love as experienced by the Other Woman, who will always remain the Other, unsure, half-a-wife. Royal concubinage had its merits, for no concubine dared think herself the empress, for fear of death, or worse. The common mistress has no such fear, and thereby no sense of danger, until it is too late to pull out. When Valeria is ‘0wnzored’ by her lover, an advertising rep – “a piano player in a whore house”, as the apocryphal saying goes – she is ecstatic – her unfortunate accident just after, leaves her a cripple, destroying her professional career, and turning her bitter and insecure. Her dog, too, suffers a fate which is ludicrous, yet tragic – it is trapped below the false flooring in her new apartment, at one with the rats and beams.

The third, and perhaps most complex character, is El Bicho, or The Goat. Nominally a homeless man who cares for a variety of dogs, he has left behind a life of prosperity, and a family, after a prison sentence, perhaps in connection with a guerilla movement. He is now an assassin for hire, one who might never be suspected or noticed, much like the great unwashed masses are overlooked by the more fortunate. The news of the death of his erstwhile wife draws him into an obsessive, voyeuristic relationship with his daughter.

The three tales are connected by a cast of dogs and bitches, some in heat, some hot-blooded. Rosario’s prize fighting Rottweiler, Cofi is shot by a jealous rival, resulting in a car chase, which causes the crucial accident. El Bicho rescues the dog, and tends to him. He discovers a strange similarity with the animal – they seem to share a bloodlust and an alienation that is not easily satiated. It is this realization that culminates in the final, satisfying walk into the sunset of El Bicho and Cofi – while Rosario fails to get his love, and Valeria confirms that Love’s a bitch indeed.

Rich, complex film-making – variegated acting – powerful emotions.

Also Recommended: Amores Perros – a book-length study of the film showing the film’s relationship to contemporary Mexican culture

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