Next up on the Debuts Blogathon is Fernando from Committed To Celluloid and his take on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros. I think Fernando’s is one of the first blogs I followed and it’s still a fantastic read; there’s some really great stuff on there. If you’re not familiar with his blog, then do yourself a favour and go check it out. Here we go…
ALEJANDRO GONZÁLEZ IÑÁRRITU
Amores Perros (2000)
Amores Perros is not only one of the best dramas that came in with the new millennium, but it’s also a motion picture of great relevance in its land of origin, Mexico.
Besides being the feature debut of the country’s most critically respected filmmaker, Alejandro González Iñárritu, it put writer Guillermo Arriaga on the map and signified the breakthrough of one of the world’s most successful Hispanic actors, Gael García Bernal.
Additionally, Amores Perros gave a breath of life to a national film industry on its deathbed, and kickstarted a new era of Mexican cinema: hard-hitting issues and relevant stories that made every nation look Mexico’s way. No small feat.
The Oscar-nominated debut of González Iñárritu is, like Magnolia before it and Crash after it (not to mention all of the director’s movies since) a web of interconnected stories.
Octavio’s (García Bernal) beloved dog Cofi has been shot. He’s racing towards some medical attention, all the while evading the crazy thugs who want Cofi, the unexpected champion in the dogfighting circuit, dead. In the heated pursuit, Octavio crashes against model Valeria’s (Goya Toledo) car, paralyzing her, thus ending her career. “El Chivo” (Emilio Echevarría) is a disgraced former family man and current hitman who witnesses the accident and rescues Cofi, who, in a strange way, ends up rescuing him.
While this opera prima is expertly written and acted, it also exhibits some issues that could be attributed to both González and Arriaga’s rookie status. As it gave us a look into some of the talent they’d both display in the years to come, it also reminds us these people were newbies at one point.
Octavio’s story takes up most of the runtime, and rightfully so. Chapter 1 of Amores Perros is mainly why the film is so respected, I think. It’s a thrilling, gritty mini-movie in itself.
Then two cars crash and we head into Valeria’s life. An abruptly finished modeling career and a possibly cheating boy friend can be tragic situations, but instead of rooting for her, you’ll find yourself annoyed by her obsessive, aggressive attitudes and waiting for her to just shut up already! (and maybe check your watch a little).
El Chivo’s tale of redemption and new beginnings is a step up from a weak midsection, but neither his or Valeria’s stories are as gripping as that powerful first chapter, which is the film’s biggest achievement.
Later collaborating on 21 Grams and Babel, Alejandro González and Guillermo Arriaga entered a bitter battle of egos. Arriaga (who went on to pen The Three Burials of Melquíades Estrada and direct The Burning Plain) claimed González Iñárritu took all the credit and received all recognition for everything they did together.
He’s got a point. But comparing Arriaga’s solid but unspectacular ‘Plain’ (oh, the irony) and González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, a harrowing modern masterpiece, makes you think maybe Alejandro’s the one with the real talent after all.
Amores Perros is not perfect: it looks like it was shot with a cell phone camera and has pace issues. Starts off with a bang, then loses its footing only to pick itself back up (not quite all the way, though). But it’s a film of undeniable power and grit and a fantastic way to get acquainted with one of the best cineastes in the biz, foreign or otherwise.
Over at Three Rows Back today, you can read an excellent look at Bong Joon Ho’s Barking Dogs Never Bite by Naomi from She Speaks Movies. Head over there right now and give it a read if you haven’t already.
Tomorrow you can check out KaramelKinema’s piece on Darren Aronofsky’s directorial debut Pi.
You can check out the rest of the entries in the blogathon here.