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Heroes of the Zeroes: Amores Perros

by on January 16, 2010
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The Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“Amores Perros”
Rated R

Writer Guillermo Arriaga and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s hyperlink structure didn’t always feel gimmicky. Despite its bevy of Oscar nominations, “Babel” barely possessed the energy to sit up and wave, and obtuseness obscured Arriaga’s “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.”

But their collision of chances, connections and coincidences once leapt off the screen, most ferociously in 2000’s “Amores Perros.”

“Amores Perros” translates in subtitles as “Love’s a Bitch,” a cheeky play on perros (dogs) factoring into each plot. Yet the pooches prove a perfect metaphor for our fierce loyalty to a love even as it might lead to our destruction.

Here, the seemingly circumstantial incident connecting several parties is a car accident — an apt appropriation of love as a head-on crash where there’s no telling the damage done until the daze wears off.

An aged activist (Emilio Echevarria) laments the family he left behind. A sexy model (Goya Toledo) faces a career-ending injury. A teen (Gael Garcia Bernal) pits his dog against others to fund an escape with his sister-in-law. (Dog softies: Beware of copious canine carnage.)

Political passion can pummel us into shells. The heat of infidelity isn’t a good precursor to a tepid everyday existence. Coveting can be selfishly confused for love. Gustavo Santaolalla’s tremulous score helps make each point reverberate in the gut.

Plus, Arriaga and Inarritu exert such control over their story that even a cute doggie disappearance develops into a toilet-trained take on “The Telltale Heart.” Warts and all, “Amores Perros” is love, actually.