A simple test can discern the good long films from the bad long ones: if you get bored, then something went wrong. And so it is a testament to the power of Mexican import Amores Perros that the film remains energetic for the full length of its two-and-a-half-hour running time. Three intertwined stories are united by a car crash in Mexico City. First-time Director Alejandro González Iñárritu is one to watch, for he evidences both technical mastery (the film is shot, cut, and edited with verve) and a feel for the mythic supports that underpin melodrama.
On the surface, each vignette could be cribbed from a telenovela. “Octavia and Susana” deals with a young man in love with his brother's wife. He raises money for a possible escape by having his pooch participate in brutal dogfights. Valeria (Goya Toledo) of “Daniel and Valeria” shares an apartment with a middle-aged man who abandoned his family to be with the beautiful model. She gets her legs horribly disfigured by Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) in a car crash and later sits, wheelchair-bound, as her dog finds trouble under the floorboards. “El Chivo and Maru” features an old revolutionary turned mercenary, living with dogs while dreaming of his estranged daughter.
Amores Perros takes on Mexico City's energy and class schisms and social violence, and emerges with a multi-layered work that remains gripping throughout. Amores Perros is innovative, important, and enthralling.