Saturday, 29 August 2009

Film Review: Sin Nombre

I went to see the brilliant 'Sin Nombre' the other night, at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, and had to write about it.

Sin Nombre, a directorial debut for Cary Fukunaga, is a Spanish language film, mostly set in Mexico but also in Honduras, and centres on two storylines which come together in a beautiful, touching and tragic way. There are some outstanding performances, particulalry from the young lead actors in the film.

The film, part gangster movie part road trip, is a grim reminder of the poverty and destitution in the region, little seen from the Disney like resorts of Cancun. The film zooms in on those those who turn to gang life as a way of finding purpose and gaining respect; and the heartbreaking plight of those seeking to make a better life for themselves by escaping.

When her father is deported back to Honduras from New Jersey, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) finds herself with little choice but to go with her father, who she hardly knows, on the long trip via Mexico on a freight train to try and get back to New Jersey, where her father's new family still lives.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, El Casper (played by Edgar Flores) is a member of the infamous Mara Salvatrucha. The Mara is a brutal, criminal and far reaching gang which has members across Mexico and the US. After recruiting the young Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer) into the gang, El Casper starts to become disillusioned with gang life, preferring to spend his time with his secret girfriend Martha Marlene (Diana Garcia). The leader of this particular branch of the gang Lil' Mago (Huerta Mejia) become suspicious of El Casper's absences and questions his loyalty.

Ultimately it is his love for Martha Marlene, and the tragedy and events that follow, that causes El Casper to meet with Sayra and her father and uncle at the US bound freight train boarding point. Lil' Mago, Smiley and Casper are determined to rob the stowaways of their money and an altercation between Sayra and Lil' Mago ends with El Casper taking the life changing actions that sees him become a marked man on the run from his gang.

It is from here onwards that the stories merge and a beautiful friendship between Sayra and El Casper develops, as they make their way across Mexico to try and get to the US.

This film is certainly not a feel good film and the characters and story stayed with me for a long while after seeing it. Cary Fukunaga has captured beautifully, if shockingly the plight of those whose lives he sought to portray. Using real migrants making that hopeful journey on a real train and a mixture of professional actors and street kids the film really hits home. This is an acomplished debut from Fukunaga, which once again shows the talent for film making in Latin America.

What do you think?

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