Friday, October 29, 2010

Sin Nombre

I love a movie that shows another culture or people group from the inside.  Sin Nombre takes us into the lives of Honduran gang members and of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S.  I love the authenticity and emotion of Sin Nombre, but, as you might expect, it leans hard on melodrama and attempts a great deal of sympathy for the illegals.

Sarya, a Honduran teenager, is setting out for a new life in New Jersey.  She and her father and uncle ride the trains with hundreds of other immigrants, sitting on top of a cargo train for days.  They meet up with Casper, who's fleeing his gang.  After the gang leader tried to have his way with Casper's girlfriend and accidentally killed her, Casper betrayed a fellow gang member, killing him before he could have his way with Sarya.  Sarya and Casper team up as they head north on the trains with Casper's gang in hot pursuit.
Even though Sin Nombre is in Spanish and was filmed in Mexico, it was written and directed by Cary Fukunaga, an American. Fukunaga personally spent time riding the trains with real immigrants and hanging out with gang members; he even had a couple of them help him edit the script to ensure the realism of the dialogue.  As a result, parts of Sin Nombre have an almost documentary feel.  I got the feeling that even though the story is fictional, it portrays reality as many Mexicans and Central Americans experience it.
Reflecting the lives of the gang members it portrays and the plight of the immigrants it follows, Sin Nombre is a rather bleak movie with glimpses of hope.  Having been born and raised in the U.S., I can't relate to the hope Latin Americans have of a new life in the promised land north of the border in contrast to their home countries.  Sin Nombre brings us face-to-face with gang members and illegal immigrants as real people with hopes and dreams.  This is a movie worth watching, for sure.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

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