(2000)4Derek ArmstrongA film that made it onto numerous top ten lists in both 2000 and 2001, depending on its stateside or Mexican release date, Amores Perros is an overlapping consideration of the crises of love as it wavers in and out of reciprocity, in both the gutters and penthouses of Mexico City. More striking on the surface is how that theme is explored metaphorically through the egregious mistreatment and abuse of all species of dogs, the double entendre "bitches" of the title. Their graphic deaths and dismemberments might have given the ASPCA fits if it weren't for the short that accompanies the video and DVD release, which illustrates the "canine actors" at work and demonstrates the methods of bloodying them without actually hurting them. In his astonishing debut, director Alexandro Gonzalez Inarritu saves the real blood for the fractured human relationships, agonizing in their complexity and cruelty. Directing an interweaving screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga, whose narrative structure bursts with the kind of freshness once ascribed to Quentin Tarantino, Inarritu brings his gritty camera into the dingy slums and palatial condos with equal confidence. From this he mines authentic perceptions about the strain of loyalties under the duress of an ironic, twisted reality. The moral center of the film is a disheveled hit man, living as a bum among the detritus of his wasted life and ruined family. His solution for how to resolve a conflict between back-stabbing brothers is the enduring image of a film that consistently and brilliantly dissects the anguish behind the titular cliché.