The immediate brutality displayed by the characters within Amores Perros is damnable. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has no time for those who aren’t in it for the long haul. He spends no time whatsoever trying to coax those on the fence over to his way of thinking, diving into the deep end immediately in a tale of dog fights, underground criminals and those looking simply to survive harsh times. Whilst I’m not all that keen on films that feature slices of life, Amores Perros does a superb job of looking into a group of people wanting to tackle the harsh climates they find themselves within, dealing with the fact that there’s not much hope of getting out.
Facing down an entity or enemy with no way of backing out does instil a great fear within me. There must always be a way out, and I am lucky enough to back out of challenges that seem dangerous or violent should they crop up. Many do not have that choice. Amores Perros shows those who would do good had they been born or raised elsewhere. Inequality and class division are, inevitably, mused on. Iñárritu provides good commentary. These characters are, for the most part, good people on the inside. Their surroundings and upbringing have led them down the path of fighting for the few scraps they can cling to.
An introduction to a gritty culture, it feels a bit like City of God, but rather than a long trip through crime, we find ourselves lurching between horrible pockets of nasty individuals. They are trapped. Powering through life as best they can, there is little respite offered by Iñárritu, and the brutality he displays is unnerving and effective. An unflinching quality that would anger and provoke, Iñárritu is effective in that regard but leaves much to be desired with effective dialogue. It is forgettable but drives these characters forward. What they represent is far more important than who they are or what they say. Actions do indeed speak louder than words, but words are just as important for motion pictures, especially if we are to spend so long with these characters.
Spending time with Octavio (Gael García Bernal), in particular, is the finest bit of engagement Amores Perros has to offer. His story is simple, fuelled by love for someone he could treat better than his brother, Ramiro (Marco Pérez) could ever possibly hope for. That is the effective nature of Iñárritu’s direction. But therein lies my issue with Amores Perros. Its simplicity and brutality here are unmatched by anything that can follow it. Octavio is a well-to-do man confined to a life of crime not because he does not wish to better himself, but because those around him wish to get worse. Such horrors are effective and cutting, it is just a sad shame the rest of the film is unable to keep up with such a display of confidence. It peters out by the end, and it’s that chapter-style of disconnected stories in the same setting that brings lag to Amores Perros.