Amores Perros (2000) is one of the best-known examples of hyperlinked cinema, in which disparate characters are connected by a common theme. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s feature debut introduced the brilliant Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, in addition to marking Inarritu as a director to watch. (He went on to make a series of acclaimed dramas, including the Oscar-winning Birdman in 2014 and The Revenant in 2015.)

The film is available on Lionsgate Play. Screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga braids together three stories set in Mexico City. All of them feature dogs as symbols of human apathy as well as spiritual redemption.

Bernal stars as Octavio, who gets embroiled in an illegal dog-fighting ring and is madly in love with his sister-in-law. Octavio’s involvement in a car accident leads to the second strand, which revolves around a model who is a businessman’s mistress. A crucial part of this track involves the model’s pet pooch.

In the third story, Chivo is an enigmatic hitman operating under the cover of a vagrant. Chivo has a posse of strays accompanying him as he kills people for money while trying to make amends with his daughter.

Canine lovers will find some of the scenes hard to watch. But the bottomless cruelty of humans is one of this film’s big ideas, as is betrayal.

If Amores Perros feels familiar, it’s because its visceral style, kinetic camerawork and unsparing portrayal of urban despair has been widely imitated. While Inaruttu’s no-holds-barred filmmaking often grabs you by the collar, there is also tenderness in this enduring saga of canines and causality. Bernal is remarkable as Octavio, following up his indelible performance a year later in yet another contemporary Mexican classic, Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Amores Perros (2000).