Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Gustavo Muñoz, Goya Toledo, y muchos perros
The fragility of a dog's well-being is exposed in Iñárritu's first full-length film. Similar to his later work, Babel, this film has three interweaving stories which all literally crash together when two cars collide at an intersection. The first story is of Mexico City's dogfighting underworld, and the family who is using it to survive. The second is a straightforward story of a magazine editor and his new love interest whose dog gets stuck under the floorboards of their new apartment. The final plot tells the life of a hobo and his pack of dogs. When the man is hired to kill a man's business partner, he takes the case a step further than what was demanded.
Considering its low estimated budget of $2m, this film is a huge accomplishment. At 2.5 hours long, the camerawork is consistently impressive. The acting is all top notch, and the scenes with action are all very realistic. However, I feel that Iñárritu's style is in a rut.
It appears that Iñárritu is trusting his closest friends completely with his films, seeing that he casts the same actors often, the same composer often, and his style in itself doesn't seem to change. He's obsessed with the multiple-plot outlines. Personally, I find that in this style, none of his plots have enough time to have any major twists, yet with all of them combined, the film is just a bit too long.
It was heartbreaking to see the treatment of dogs in each part of society. Even in the upper class, the dogs were represented as ignored, second-class citizens - maybe even as slaves. It was truly an eye-opener to see that dogfighting isn't the only abuse a dog can suffer from. And I gave my two dogs a big hug once the credits finished.
I'll give the film one thumb up.
Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
- The car crash sequence was shot with nine simultaneous cameras, including two on adjacent rooftops and one hidden in a trash barrel. In the second and final take, the model's car spun around, overshot its projected target by at least 100 meters, and smashed into a taxicab parked by the side of the road.
- Unlike most films, a disclaimer stating that no animals were harmed in the making of the movie comes at the beginning instead of being buried in the credits.
- The Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England filed a complaint to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) about a 21-second dog fight scene.