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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Dogs take lead in Mexican drama
Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) begins the drama when he crashes into another car
Tarantino-esque touches in Amores Perros
By the BBC's Neil Smith

They may be man's best friend, but it's a dog's life for the canine heroes of Mexican drama Amores Perros.

When not plugged with bullets or trapped beneath floorboards, they are forced to partake in vicious dogfights by their uncaring owners.

Needless to say this "pelicula" from first-time director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu may prove unsettling to dog lovers, pet owners and those of a sensitive disposition.

But readers who can take scenes of simulated savagery will be hugely impressed by a film that has already been dubbed Mexico's answer to Pulp Fiction.

Like Quentin Tarantino's 1994 thriller, Amores Perros comprises three separate but connected stories that straddle Mexico City's social, cultural and political divides.

Emilio Echevarria is an ex-communist guerilla turned freelance assassin
The movie travels backwards and forwards in time, exploring the impact of the collision
The director has described the capital as "an anthropological experiment" and "a baroque and complex mosaic" - quotes that could also be used to describe his audacious three-hour opus.

Three lives collide when teenager Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal), on the run from some local hoodlums, smashes into another car driven by supermodel Valeria (Goya Toledo).

The incident has far-reaching consequences for both its victims, but it also impacts on the life of a passer-by (Emilio Echevarria), an ex-communist guerrilla turned derelict who now works as a freelance assassin.

The movie then travels forwards and backwards in time to see how these individuals came to be at that intersection on that fateful day, and what lessons they draw - if any - from their life-shattering experience.

Shockingly violent and darkly comic by turns, the Oscar-nominated Amores Perros ("Love's a Bitch") doesn't quite live up to the grandeur of its conception.

But it's still a remarkable debut from former DJ Inarritu that more than justifies the dozens of awards it has picked up around the globe.

If there is a weakness, it is the way the director sacrifices coherence for flashy visuals, snappy editing and other tools of the pop video trade.

That said, you will be hard pressed to find a more eye-catching or provocative motion picture this year.

Amores Perros is on general release from Friday 18 May

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