[WRITTEN BY AARON LIM]
Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
Cast: Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer, Paulina Gaitán, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Diana García, Héctor Jiménez, Gerardo Taracena and Luis Fernando Peña
Sundance Film Festival Winners for Excellence in Cinematography and Direction (2009)
A beautifully-shot movie set in South America- including Mexico and Honduras- the film centers around the young Honduran girl Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), seeking to emigrate to the United States, and a teenage boy, nicknamed El Casper (Edgar Flores), deeply involved in violent gang culture, struggling with disillusionment, and looking for a way out of the endless cycle of vice. The lives of these two characters become intertwined during a routine robbery of the poverty stricken-migrants as they pass through gang territory, where they both become targets of the dangerous gang-leader, Lil’ Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejia).
The movie’s award-winning cinematography is one of its main attractions- from the lush jungles of South America to the urban slums the protagonists have to navigate, each scene is spectacularly captured, almost to the point of romanticizing their hardship and the grim struggles they have to endure until they reach their destinations. Striking colours maintain a fresh contrast to the dusty trappings of their poverty, mirroring the vividness of the plot and the journey it takes us through.
The realism of the characters, their relationships and the geographical connection gives the film the captivating feel of a documentary. The director, Cary Fukunaga, has obviously done his research on the plight of Latin American migrants and the inner workings of the infamous Mara Salvatrucha gang. One cannot seem to shake off the feeling that the protagonist’s bleak situation could happen or has happened to a real-life migrant family. When a series of events so dramatic and gruesome start to mirror real life, it gives the viewer a forlorn and sharp reminder of the demonstrations of cruelty humanity is capable of, and Sin Nombre seamlessly succeeds in bridging that distance between the audience and its characters. Exempting a slight weakness of sometimes predictable storyline, this film is an absolute gem.