|to dip your toe into the Mexican underworld with a fresh cast and creative director, who's come from a music background
|Alejandro González Iñárritu
|Gael García Bernal, Álvaro Guerrero, Emilio Echevarría, Goya Toledo, Jorge Salinas, Vanessa Bauche
|18th May 2001
Sometimes there’s a clear reason for dividing a film into distinctive chapters, each following the distinctive but overlapping stories of unrelated people. Here, it feels like the structure has been used largely because no one storyline was long enough to stand alone as a feature film.
When Octavio (García Bernal) discovers that his dog Cofi can kill all-comers in dogfights, he seizes on this to make the money he needs to run away with his brother’s wife. At one fight, a rival owner shoots Cofi. On the way to the vet, Octavio jumps a red light.
Next, we follow TV producer Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero), who leaves his family to move in with supermodel, Valeria (Goya Toledo) the other driver involved in the crash. Her leg is crushed and her contracts cancelled. With nothing else to do, she becomes obsessed with trying to find her little dog, Richi, after he disappears through a hole in the floorboards.
Back at the scene of the crash, a tramp cum killer-for-hire and dog-lover (Emilio Echevarría) finds Cofi. He takes him to his squat and nurses him back to health. This relationship helps him come to terms with his revolutionary past and return to society.
With colourful characterisation, fresh and natural performances from a mostly untried cast, and a soundtrack which betrays González Iñárritu’s deejaying past, there’s a lot to recommend this.
But ultimately, the structure lacks purpose, the film struggles to justify its two-and-a-half-hour running time and the faint-hearted might find it a little gory.
This review first appeared on bbc.co.uk/films