(2000; Spanish) Director Alejandro González Iñarritu brings together three characters in a collision at an intersection in Mexico City, observing their stories before and after.
Two guys with guns in a truck are chasing Octavio (Gael García Bernal) and his buddy Jorge in a car with Octavio's dog Cofi bleeding in the back seat when Octavio runs a red light smashing into a car with supermodel Valeria Amaya (Goya Toledo) at the wheel.
Octavio is in love with his older brother's wife Susana (Vanessa Bauche), who is pregnant with her second child and fearful of telling her mean husband Ramiro (Marco Pérez), who robs shops to supplement his job as a checkout clerk at a grocery store where he's banging another girl on the side.
After his dog Poncho wins in a dog fight, Jarocho sics his mauler on Octavio's black dog Cofi, who has gotten out, but Cofi kills the attacker. Jarocho confronts Octavio, demanding payment of 20,000 pesos or his dog. Octavio makes a deal with fatso, arranger of the dog fights, to enter Cofi as a contestant; the partnership with fatso proves lucrative as Cofi devours the competition, many of them Jarocho's dogs, in fifteen consecutive matches.
A grizzled old man with long gray hair and bushy beard, El Chivo (Emilio Echevarria) - a former guerrilla leader of the White Brigade who left his teaching career, his wife Norma and two-year-old daughter Maru, in a futile attempt to change the world, languishing in prison for twenty years - assassinates an industrialist sitting at a table in an outdoor restaurant; watch the blood sizzle on the grill.
Later after seeing a death notice for his former wife in the newspaper, he attends the funeral; but his sister-in-law wards him off from his daughter, reminding him that she believes he's dead.
Envious of his brother's winnings, Ramiro threatens to shoot Cofi if Octavio doesn't split the take.
A magazine editor, Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero), leaves his wife Julieta and two young daughters for Valeria; from the apartment he has purchased for them, she can see through the window a billboard of herself posing seductively for Enchant (a perfume).
Octavio arranges for a final match with another of Jarocho's dogs, a first-class canine killer, for 40,000 pesos, before leaving with Susana for Juarez. Though he gets a favor from his partner to have his brother severely beaten, Octavio discovers to his enormous dismay that Susana has departed with Ramiro and most of the money.
Leonardo, the cop who years before captured El Chivo, brings a client Gustavo Miranda Garfias and 40 sandwiches to his former nemesis with a proposition to kill Gustavo's half brother and business partner for cheating; El Chivo eventually accepts the job for 150,000 pesos. On his way to the assignment (Susana and Ramiro pass on the sidewalk), his plan is interrupted by a car crash in the intersection.
In addition to Cofi, dogs play a significant role in the film, the title of which translates into Life Is a Bitch. After Valerie returns from the hospital in a wheelchair, her fluffy white Richie chases a ball down into a hole in the floor, leading to arguments between her and Daniel when the dog remains trapped under the flooring. El Chivo keeps several dogs in his crummy quarters.
At the scene of the crash, El Chivo rips open the door to Octavio's car, steals money and wallet from the injured driver's pockets, and then picks up the dying Cofi to be carted home. Nursing the dog back to health delays his completing the contracted killing; however, assuring Leonardo that the job will be done in two days, he goes out again when Cofi is able to get up and about. Once more unsuccessful in isolating his target, El Chivo returns to his abode to find that Cofi has slaughtered all of the mutts.
Enraged over the senseless killing, El Chivo nearly shoots Cofi, but this man who can kill human beings in cold blood relents. Shortly afterward he has abducted Gustavo's half brother and brought him back to his own rooms. After tying the man up, El Chivo begins asking questions: Who would have wanted him killed? Maybe his mistress or his wife? The hostage considers the possibilities before rejecting the thought of either's involvement, but perhaps his mistress's husband. El Chivo then asks what name he should give to his black dog: What about Gustavo? When the prisoner speaks dismissively of the dog, El Chivo says: "If not for him, you'd be dead." When Gustavo arrives with the rest of the payment, El Chivo brings Cain into the presence of Abel.
Michael Vick might appreciate this film. Actually in all respects it is an excellent vehicle (similar to Go, 11:14, Crash, and Babel) for commingling the lives of three separate classes of characters who briefly come into violent contact without ever knowing one another.
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