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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes
  • Animated menus
  • 3 Music video
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Awards/Nominations

Amores Perros

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 152 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

First time director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu bursts into the world’s cinema spotlight with his multi-award-winning first feature Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch). Featuring a non-linear narrative (ala. Pulp Fiction) Amores Perros presents the lives of three groups of individuals, all living desperate lives in the economic melting pot that is Mexico City, and all brought together by a tragic car accident.

In a small apartment in the Mexico City slums, Octavio (Gael García Bernal) and his brother Ramiro (Marco Pérez) live with their mother and Ramiro’s young wife Susana (Vanessa Bauche). Constantly abused by Ramiro, Susana struggles to finish high school whilst caring for Ramiro’s infant son. Despite living in fear of his violent brother, Octavio is besotted with his sister-in-law and is determined to make enough money to convince her to run away with him. With the poor streets of Mexico City providing few alternatives, Octavio decides to enter his dog Coffi on the local underground dog fighting circuit. Fortunately Coffi, a huge rottweiler, is a mean son-of-a-bitch and Octavio starts to amass a small nest egg. But soon Ramiro finds out about his little brother's activities and wants a large slice of the action.

Meanwhile on the wealthy side of the city, successful magazine publisher Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero) has just dumped his wife and two children to move in with gorgeous supermodel Valeria (Goya Toledo). With her career hitting high gear, and with her face appearing on billboards throughout Mexico City, Daniel’s love completes her perfect life. However, tragedy is just around the corner and when Valeria is seriously injured in a car accident, the couple's idyllic life comes crashing to an abrupt end.

Finally there's El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría), a hairy urchin who walks the streets of Mexico City with his cart and menagerie of stray dogs. An ex-guerilla, Chivo has spent 20 years in prison; long ago abandoning his wife and daughter for the cause. Unable to return to them, he now feeds himself and his dogs by carrying out the odd contract killing. However with the sudden death of his wife, his old regrets are brought painfully back into focus and he desires only to be reunited with his now adult daughter.

A central theme in Amores Perros is the character's relationships with their canine companions (hence the film’s title), whose lives act as a mirror into the lives of their owners. Despite loving his dog Coffi more than the rest of his family, Octavio willingly risks her life in viscous fights to win his fortune. Valerie spoils her pooch Richie more than she would a child, and when Richie gets stuck under the apartment floor, his confinement begins to closely reflect her own. El Chivo treats his mangy pack of animals with greater respect than he accords to any human, and yet through them he identifies his own undoing.

Both moving and shocking, in Amores Perros Inarritu has crafted a beautiful drama that is infused with the affluence, the violence and the poverty that is the soul of Mexico City. Highlighting the sharp contrast between its poverty and the opulence of its more wealthy citizens, the film’s deeply textured characterisations and locations add a depth rarely seen in Hollywood cinema today; a style reminiscent of European productions rather than anything coming out of North America. With a strong cast, most notably Emilio Echevarría as the mysterious El Chivo, and featuring one of the most kinetic and frenzied car chases in recent memory, this is one edgy drama that every cinema buff should have on their short list.

  Video
Contract

Congratulations must go to Madman for the superb job they have done in bringing Amores Perros to our beloved format. This is a fantastic transfer that again shows Madman are more than a match for the big guns of our region.

The anamorphic image is beautifully sharp and crystal clear with a fantastic level of detail and deep impenetrable blacks. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has gone for a specific look to his urban drama, with the palette tending towards monotonic on many occasions. The tints perfectly complement the mood of each scene, with gritty sepias and cold blue greys predominating. When they come, splashes of blood stand out as stark and dramatic as the events that cause them. At all times the colours are beautifully vibrant without being over-saturated, and the enhanced contrast provided by the monotonic palettes allows the great depths of detail to be plumbed.

On several occasions, film grain appears in the image – typically in the grittier scenes; the rundown slums of Octavio and his family, and the cold streets that are home to El Chivo. This seems to be an artistic choice made by director Inarritu and adds weight to the portrayal of life on the poor streets of Mexico City.

As I said, this image is magnificent - as is fitting for this wonderful, yet disturbing film.

  Audio
Contract

In terms of audio, Madman bring us Amores Perros with its original Spanish soundtrack in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that displays unexpectedly high production values given its all-Mexican pedigree.

Now don't let me give you the wrong impression - Amores Perros is a human drama, not an effects-laden extravaganza. The majority of its scenes involve dialogue between its protagonists and therefore the soundtrack is, on the whole, centre-dominant. This being said, the film also features a nice level of ambient sound that breathes with the life of Mexico City. In carrying layer upon layer of this ambience and also providing many subtle directional effects, the surround channels are used to great (yet subtle) effect. The ambience is nicely overlaid with the score, (featuring predominantly contemporary tracks), that pumps from all directions. The subwoofer is constantly called on to add body to the score and underpin many other sounds such as cars, trucks and the growls of angry dogs.

However it's not all subtle stuff and, when the drama requires it (in particular during the film’s opening and pivotal scene), the soundstage erupts into life with bone crunching clarity - the subwoofer booms, the surrounds scream with smashing glass and twisted metal, and on the edge of hearing women begin to sob. The car chase and unfortunate climax that mark the first minutes of the film literally starts the film with a BANG.

  Extras
Contract

Madman’s exemplary production values continue into the disc itself, which sports nicely animated, anamorphic menus. The menus provide access to a comprehensive selection of extras that serve as a good companion to the film – exploring its themes, its cast and the motivations of its director.

Deleted Scenes: 12 scenes in total that didn’t make final cut. Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, and each with a commentary by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Inarritu explains what he was trying to achieve with each scene and why it was eventually removed. A great companion to the deleted scenes, the commentary is in Spanish, with English subtitles. The transfer quality is comparable to the feature itself, and the commentary is not optional.

Making the Film: A fantastic 15 minute behind the scenes featurette, containing footage from on-set, preliminary film rushes, and interviews with the director, cast and crew who give their impressions of the stories, the importance of the rehearsal sessions and the impact that the finished film will have on audiences. Full frame, non-anamorphic, sharp and clear.

Behind the Scenes: Presents small portions of the interviews shown in Making the Film as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the actors on-set. In the case of the all-too realistically staged dog fights, the phrase ‘Make love not war’ immediately springs to mind. Seven and a half minutes, full frame, non-anamorphic, sharp and clear.

Music: Three music videos for songs that form the cornerstone of the film’s score, Me Van a Matar by Julieta Venegas, Avientame by Café Tacuba, and the hip-hop inspired de Perros Amores by Control Machete. All three transfers are non-anamorphic, full-frame, clean and sharp.

Theatrical Trailer: Presented in widescreen, with a non-anamorphic transfer that is clean and sharp, if a little grainy. An intriguing introduction to a wonderful yet disturbing film.

Press Kit: A collection of text-based information on the film including short career descriptions and filmographies for each of the cast and crew members, the list of awards and nominations garnered by the film, and an endorsement from William Friedkin (director of The Exorcist).

Madman Propaganda: Theatrical trailers for three Madman releases, The Bank, Mullet and The Shadow of the Vampire. Widescreen non-anamorphic clean and sharp.

  Overall  
Contract

The emotional roller coaster that is Amores Perros begins with a frenetic, breathless chase scene and does not let go until the dramatic climax. Although not for the faint hearted (the realistic dog fighting scenes had my wife walking out at the 20-minute mark), the strong of stomach will be rewarded with a powerful cinematic experience. I would definitely recommend renting before buying, and the current rental-only window provides a perfect opportunity to do so. Check this one out!


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      And I quote...
    "Both moving and shocking, the strong of stomach will be rewarded with an exciting and powerful cinematic experience."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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