Sin Nombre Review: Gangsters Paradise

SIN NOMBRE: Released nationwide from 14th August 2009

If you thought your life was tough, what with the economy going tits up and all, watch this movie.

You’ve got it friggin easy.

Sin Nombre (Without A Name) will give you a reality check like you won’t believe.

In an effort to make it to the promised land of Big Macs, thousands of Central American immigrants make the dangerous journey across their countries whilst trying to avoid gangs and border patrols. Casper (Edgar Flores) is a teenage member of a vicious gang called the Mara Salvatrucha, when he takes revenge on the gang’s leader, Lil’ Mago, for killing his girlfriend, Martha.

Casper must go on the run and ends up on a train crowded with immigrants, all trying to get to the border. After saving her life, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) becomes attached to Casper and the two try to make it on their own.

British audiences can still struggle with films that have subtitles and if you’re one of these people, suck it up. This film deserves your attention. It has pretty much everything: an amazing cast, an engaging plot and beautiful cinematography.

Edgar Flores is a very interesting young actor and his performance as the stoic, heartbroken Casper is wonderful. The young boy that is hunting Casper is Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer); a kid that is looking to prove himself and has been lured by the macho lifestyle of the Mara. His enthusiasm is dangerous and to see it from a child’s p.o.v is pretty disturbing.

The writer/director, Cary Fukunaga, has a fantastic style that leans more toward classical cinema than modern hand held techniques. He’s shot this movie with a loving eye and makes the landscape of Mexico and Honduras look very beautiful and varied with really rich colours.

The struggle against poverty and gang culture is touchingly portrayed but isn’t without it’s violent side, but Fukunaga has the good grace to be sparing and fairly conservative with on-screen violence. While the tone of the film is rarely light and humour is sparse, it does occur in between moments of heartbreak and fear.

I expect Sin Nombre to build a respectable size fan base; considering Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien) is the Executive Producer it should have a readymade audience.


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