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flick pick | Amores Perros 2000
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written by: Guillermo Arriaga
Starring: Emilio Echevarria, Gael Garcia Bernal, Goya Toledo, Alvaro Guerrero, Vanessa Bauche
Language: Spanish [with English subtitles]
Look for it at the video store under: foreign [Mexico], drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for
something: artsy-fartsy, hip, serious 
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 (not so much a barrel of laughs as fast-paced, but dog fanatics and the generally-squeamish be warned: it's gory)

Plot synopsis Octavio pines for his brother Ramiro's wife, Susana, the situation made more complicated because the three share a run-down apartment with the boys' mother. While brutish Ramiro robs convenience stores, and philanders,  good-natured Octavio dreams of convincing Susana to run away with him. But first, he realizes, he'll need to earn enough money to help the two of them start a new life — and when his dog Cofi kills the neighborhood bully's prized killer mutt, Octavio sees a way to make some serious cash quick: he'll fight Cofi in illegal dogfights. In the same city, but worlds away from the squalor of Octavio and Susana's lives, model Valeria flaunts a fake relationship with a fellow celeb to draw media attention away from her real love affair with a married man, Daniel. The day that Daniel surprises Valeria with the good news that he's finally left his wife, and purchased a luxury apartment for the two lovebirds to share with their dog, Valeria's so excited that she rushes out to buy a bottle of wine to celebrate. She ends up in a car crash that leaves her unable to walk, one beautiful long model's leg horribly mangled. A third storyline serves as a bridge between the other two: lurking silently in the crowded streets and dark alleys that link Octavio's and Valeria's worlds is a mysterious homeless man/assassin named El Chivo, who has a weakness for stray dogs, and a tragic past.

Review Amores Perros is bleak, brutal, and really rather bloody … but terribly beautiful too. Like Requiem for the Dream, it left me feeling simultaneously awed and a little drained — its sad stories and dismal environments lingered, and afterwards, all I really wanted to do was to curl up in my warm bed, and hug my boy without talking: my way of affirming that contrary to what some folks seem to think, love can be simple and good. In Amores Perros, love's neither, not that that stops any of the film's characters from seeking it anyway. Thanks to its non-linear structure, quirky lowlife characters, and loosely interwoven subplots, every review that I've read of the movie has compared it to Pulp Fiction. And while  Amores Perros may be clothed in a lot of the conventions of that subgenre of crime-thriller, there's too much depth of emotion beneath the hip façade for the Tarantino comparison to do it justice. True, two of the storylines — Octavio's and El Chivo's — are far more compelling the third, but the strength of Alejandro González Iñárritu's debut film is clearly in the relationships that its characters are desperately trying to form. For all its kinetic camerawork and artsy-fartsy, hyper-saturated color palette, the style's subservient to the substance: grounding all three stories is a comment on the urge, no make that the reflex, of the human heart to reach out for love, despite the inevitability of loss. It's mostly a downer, but never a bore -- and if it makes you feel any better, the ending … well, it's kind enough to give you a sliver of hope.—reviewed by Y. Sun

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