Where Birdman was a stunning character study built around the incredible single shot trick and The Revenant formed a sweeping, politically charged epic built around the exceptional method acting of Leonardo DiCaprio, Amores Perros falls somewhere in the unformed middle, clearly marking itself as an early work of an incredible but still emerging director. Iñárritu had not mastered (or chose not to use) the single take approach here and so that is conspicuously absent in a film where at times, it feels almost necessary. Absent as well is the exceptional (and expensive) camera work of The Revenant, with Amores Perros grounding itself in low budget shots that work for the most part but can occasionally be too choppy, too grimy, or simply too poorly done even for the film's arthouse tastes. Iñárritu's storyboarding also falls short of his work with Birdman, although this may reflect his greater involvement with the writing of that later film. Although the first and last storyline of the film are powerful, the central sequence feels underwhelming, both in importance and connection to the other characters, despite moving performances from the actors involved. It's a letdown quickly solved in the third act but it's also another hour added onto what is already an overly long film, another issue that Iñárritu would address with later films by tidying up the narratives (Birdman runs at only 119 minutes) or engaging the audience more effectively throughout (The Revenant as a case in point). However despite all of this, Amores Perros is a fantastically engaging character study, in the tradition of Tarantino. It's also a film that shares a stylistic structure with films like Requiem for a Dream and Crash but as regretful Oscar voters can likely attest to, Amores Perros will probably give you a better feel for that style then those other two atrocities ever will. It's impressive because despite seeming like a television episode needing several more seasons (this is apparently part of a loosely connected trilogy, although the fact that the other two films start mostly white actors seems to strike against what made this film interesting for me), Amores Perros manages, for the most part, to keep you engaged on its own terms, despite not really having much of a significant resolution, climax, or narrative goal. Everything has small endings certainly but since the film is part of a larger story, most is left unfinished but remarkably, doesn't lose engagement. Most importantly however, Iñárritu showcases, for the first time, his incredible affinity for human emotion and drama along with the beginnings of the unique storytelling abilities that would catapult him to the Academy's highest honors with Birdman. Although Amores Perros is certainly the seeds of better works and will not be for everyone, for those film fans looking to engage with one of Hollywood's best living directors and his filmmaking roots, this movie is his actual start and it's a good one.