#183: Amores Perros (2000)

When and how did I watch this?

January 31st, 2016, on Netflix.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Going back through my “skipped/unavailable” list, this was the one that caught my attention second. The first was The Secret In Their Eyes, which, upon further examination, is a film I will never see for content reasons. This Mexican film appeared somewhat tamer, and I saw on some list left in my guitar space that said this was one of the greatest Spanish-speaking movies ever made.

What do I know about it now?

I’m not sure where that list came from, but they were dead wrong.  While at times the action and tension made me sweat a little, the film attempted to contrive dramatic moments using pauses and strained facial expressions in tight rooms or ugly surroundings. Yes, inner-city Guadalajara is troublesome and filthy.  But everyone cheats, kills, steals, and overall “does what it takes” to get ahead or get even, regardless of social class, in Amores perros, which is really just a ramped-up version of 2004’s Oscar-winning Crash.  And then, the film tries to slow down and make you feel empathetic for our characters, who are making poor decisions left and right, regardless of social class. There are no protagonists, and in the end, there are no winners. I suppose the idea was supposed to be ingenious, but when nothing is related and nothing is resolved, you might be closer to something resembling real life, but it makes for an unwatchable film. They loosely tied the three main storylines together, but in the end it felt sloppy and sort of condescending. To its credit, the use of a handheld camera in much of the film was effective, along with the solid acting from Bernal and Echevarria.

What are some themes in the film?

Violence, revenge, pride, survival, social class

Did this affect me personally?

The film did something interesting with the two brothers who are left tied up in El Chivo’s dwelling but with a pistol in the center of the room. There were several scenes that made me cringe.

Why is this ranked #183?

The film won numerous awards, including Best Picture in Mexico, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.  It’s fast, dirty, violent, sexual, and serious. It also looks a lot like Crash.  I’m starting to wonder if the latter borrowed a little bit.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She watched most of it, but was equally turned off.

Would I watch it again?

Nope.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Nope.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

I’m baffled that this film is on the list, that it won awards, and that it’s revered as one of the greatest Mexican films ever made.  Whereas it did its job making me feel uneasy for most of it, the “greatness” never arrived, being diverted by characters with unfinished stories and attempts to appear cool or relevant with violence, smoking, and profanity. I wanted to like this film, especially because it featured a dog I’d love to own myself. My wife remarked that we cared more about the dogs than the people in this film. Why?  Because the dogs are loyal, and the people are more interested in using each other. This alone might prop it up enough to be included as a great film, but barely.

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