It’s 20 years since Alejandro González Iñárritu directed Amores perros, but its themes are just as potent today. Set in Mexico City, Amores perros is comprised of three separate stories that come into contact with one another as the result of a car crash.
The first story is that of Octavio (Gael García Bernal), a young man living in one of Mexico City’s working-class neighbourhoods. Desperately in love with his brother’s wife Susana (Vanessa Bauche), Octavio gets involved in the city’s underground dogfighting scene in an attempt to gather enough money to run away with Susana.
This provides a stark contrast to the second story, which depicts the cushy upper-class lives of a Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero) and his Spanish supermodel girlfriend Valeria (Goya Toledo). Lastly, and even more distinguished, is El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría), a hitman living in squalor in the outskirts of Mexico City with his pack of rescued stray dogs.
Had it not been for the car crash, the lives of the aforementioned characters would never have crossed paths. In illustrating this separation of people all living within the same city, Iñárritu highlights the extreme class and wealth divisions within Mexico City; divisions that are still present today.
However, something that links all the characters are dogs; throughout the film dogs are used to aid Iñárritu’s criticism of animal cruelty, violence and machismo.
In a scene that captures the central message of the film, El Chivo returns home to find that one of his dogs, Cofi, who had been used for dogfighting, has killed all the other dogs. He is about to shoot him, but stops himself, deciding that Cofi’s aggression is a result of the cruel way humans have treated him and the violence that has been conditioned into him.