Amores Perros was a massive critical success on its release, being lavished with praise from one end of the globe to the other and well worthy of it. It is a dazzling visual display from debutant director Alejandro González Iñárritu, brimming with imagination and power that is bold and brutal, but deeply involving. The movie centres on an accident in Mexico City that reverberates through the lives of three central characters in three separate story lines, tapping into raw emotions of loss and regret, so intense that it will shake you to your core. This level of impact is achieved by skilled and insightful writing from Guillermo Arriaga, magnificent performances from a talented cast, particularly Gael Garcia Bernal and by the masterful González Iñárritu, as he interweaves the disparate story lines with awe inspiring flair.
The movie went on to win 51 awards worldwide, with a further 14 nominations. These included an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001, a BAFTA win in the same category (2002) and the Cannes Critics Week Grand Prize in 2000. In addition, it provided a respectable profit for IMCINE, as it was produced for approximately $2 million and ultimately grossed an estimated $21 million worldwide.
Amores Perros gained Alejandro González Iñárritu recognition for his direction and served as the launch pad for his career. Its critical acclaim prompted an offer from BMW to join an assembly of reputable directors in making a series of short movies promoting their vehicles. González Iñárritu’s input was Powder Keg (2001), starring Clive Owen. In 2002, he was invited to direct a segment for another compilation, 11’09”01 – September 11 (2002), focusing on the aftermath of September 11th. Its subsequent success opened the doors of Hollywood to González Iñárritu, which he modestly entered. Then, in 2003, he brought in Amores Perros writer Guillermo Arriaga to pen his first US production, 21 Grams (2003).
González Iñárritu was given creative freedom over 21 Grams, a sign of the confidence the producers had in him. Also, he was able to secure the services of Hollywood heavyweights Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro. The result of this collaboration is an uncompromising study of the essence of humanity, which extracts every ounce of emotion from you. 21 Grams is a wonderful example of dynamic storytelling from Alejandro González Iñárritu, as he disregards linear time structures and challenges you to participate in the complex emotional journey of the characters, encompassing the full spectrum, from love to hate. This type of movie is very ambitious and will only succeed if the actors involved can convey the emotions of the story to the audience. In the case of 21 Grams, the three principle actors deliver searing performances that ensures González Iñárritu’s vision is vividly realised. Finally, Guillermo Arriaga once again displays his enormous talent for dramatic writing and should take some credit for González Iñárritu’s rise to prominence.
Despite its unconventional style, 21 Grams performed well at the Box Office, grossing an estimated $60 million, from a budget of around $20 million. Also, it enjoyed very favourable critical reviews, which lead to two Oscar nominations, for Del Toro and Watts, and five BAFTA nominations, including Best Original Screenplay for Arriaga.
After the success of 21 Grams, it was Alfonso Cuarón’s opportunity to woo the international audiences, when Warner Brothers invited him to direct the third Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).
Babel was Alejandro González Iñárritu’s third feature movie and by far his most ambitious. It is a sensitive exploration of the difficulties of communication in the modern world and the sense of vulnerability that can result from it. The movie consists of four separate storylines, spanning three continents, each a deeply moving expression of human frailty, arising from the political mistrust and prejudices that plague our world. Alejandro González Iñárritu handles this expansive project with authority, as he glides through his intricately constructed web of emotion with tremendous skill, manipulating the timeline to ensure all the stories are resolved in a simultaneous climax of immense power and beauty. The movie is aided to this climax by an array of inspired visual techniques that command your attention and a captivating music score that heightens the emotional impact. The final instalment of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s trilogy of human suffering is a resounding triumph and an essential experience for any movie fan.
Babel was an international phenomenon, revered by the critics and public alike. As a result, it has grossed an estimated $100.4 million to date and has received 74 nominations worldwide, including 7 Oscar nominations in most of the major categories. So far, it has won 15 awards, most notably Best Director and Best Film at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. However, there are still many awards ceremonies to come and Babel will be a worthy challenger for the honours in 2007.
Written by Allen Munro
For the website Trapped in Mexico´s Periferico