Directed by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, starring Emilio Echevarria, Gael Garcia Bernal, Goya Toledo, Alvaro Guerrero, Vanessa Bauche, Jorge Salinas, Rodrigo Murray Prisant

Set in Mexico City, this stylish debut by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu employs a complex triple narrative structure. 'Amores Perros' - meaning 'Love's A Bitch' – refers not just to the multiplicity of themes, but to the presence of dogs throughout the film. The film opens with a powerful car crash, where the three tales intersect. Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) is an aimless reprobate who, together with his dog Cofi, moves in with his criminal brother, only to fall in love with his sister-in-law Susana (Vanessa Bauche). Penniless hobo El Chivo AKA The Goat (Emilio Echeverria) lives with a pack of stray dogs and is searching for a daughter he has not seen in years. In a desperate attempt to fight off poverty, he is drawn into an assassination plot, bringing him in contact with Octavio and his injured dog. Daniel (Alvaro Guerrero) is a powerful publishing mogul who leaves his wife for younger model, Valeria (Goya Toledo). When Valeria loses a leg in a car accident, Daniel is forced to reassess his actions.

Shot out of sequence, we repeatedly return to the accident, which has a crucial impact on the lives of all the characters. 'Amores Perros' is a visceral look at love and the depths of emotion, good or bad, that it evokes. The film also tackles fate, pitching conscious decisions against random coincidence. At three hours long, it is an epic tale and some of the dog-fighting scenes are not for the faint hearted. As difficult as these scenes are to watch, their realism is a testament to Gonzalez Inarritu's directorial skill. Without exception, the performances throughout are superb, particularly Emilio Echeverria as the wayward 'El Chivo'. In the dog-eat-dog world of relationships, love can indeed be a bitch. Although it can be difficult to capture a new angle to it, this startling film does just that.

Sineád Gleeson