Amores Perros — Love’s a Bitch
Posted by lisagbrown on August 18, 2007
Inarritu, Cuaron and del Toro
Gonzalez Inarritu is 1/3 of a holy trinity of contemporary Spanish-speaking filmmakers whose work is changing the way animals are depicted in film. Inarritu, along with Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) are often grouped together because of their common language, cinematic themes, and their genuine friendship with each other. As this blog continues, I will periodically highlight their incredible work.
Innaritu is now well-known for his 2007 film Babel. But his earlier release Amores Perros is an even grittier, more violent exploration of love, desperation and happenstance. Like Babel, Amores Perros is the intermingling of three seemingly unrelated stories that touch in unexpected ways. The most overt connection between the threads is the relationship between each main character and his or her dog. In the first story, a young man decides to enter his rottweiler in local dogfights in order to win money to rescue his abused sister-in-law. In the second story, a gorgeous fashion model carries her dog everywhere like an accessory until an accident and the dog’s disappearence reveal to her the importance of their friendship. In the final tale, an assassin questions his career when he sees a glimpse of himself in the dog he adopts.
Inarritu treats these human-animal relationships with respect and honesty. Without sentimentalizing or anthopomorphising, he manages to portray the truth about the friendship between people and dogs. What he seems to be telling us is that this beautiful kind of friendship can also be visciously brutal. Innaritu has created over 2 and a half hours of film that is difficult to watch because of its violence and death. Unlike many filmmakers who show interspecies friendships as childish, Inarritu values the human-animal bond as a legitimate and entirely adult emotion, fraught with the same complexity (and sometimes barbarity) as human relationships.
Inarritu rarely judges his human characters, even when they seem to warrant it. He simply depicts them, like he shows other animals, as the flawed creatures they are. He allows his characters to be vulnerable yet dignified, corrupt yet genuine. What becomes silently, flawlessly, astonishingly clear is that Inarritu has given us the opportuinty to see his characters through the eyes of their dogs. Inarritu points his camera lens through the filter of the unconditional love of his canine characters and as a result, we see people who are flawed, but ultimately loveable. We may want to condemn these people outright for their heinous actions, but how can we, when the animals they’ve mistreated still find decency in them? When all is said and done, it is a sobering point of view for both the audience, and the human characters themselves.