Review: Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre | Cary Fukunaga, 2009

There are very few movies that leave me so drained in the end that I never want to see them again. The only one where I remember saying that was Brokeback Mountain, and even then I said that I didn’t want to see it in about 10 years. Sin Nombre, however, I don’t want to see again in my life time, but that does not mean it’s a bad movie.

Sin Nombre is the story of Sayra (Paulina Gaytan), a girl from Honduras, who along with her dad and uncle make the dangerous journey to go the the United States. There is also Willy (Edgar Flores), a Mexican gang member whose girlfrien is killed by the leader of his gang. One day, Willy, the gang leader, and a new recruit attack the train where Sayra and her family are traveling. Things happen there that lead Willy to kill the gang leader, and now he must join all the illegal immigrants and go to the United States to try to escape from all the gang members that will come after him looking for revenge, and he will find an unlikely alliance with Sayra.

The reason why I never want to see this again is because of how realistic it is. I often see things in the news about subjects like this, and it makes me sad. This movie does not sugar coat anything. There are some graphic violent scenes, harsh language, plus the reality of the human condition in Mexico and South America adds to the heaviness of the story. Because of all these things there were many times where I had to close my eyes, but I still couldn’t. It is a compelling piece of work.

The two lead performers do a good job of carrying the film. They are not award worthy performances, but had the movie been a box office success, they would definitely have a a future in Hollywood. Fukunaga’s work here is also great, as well as the music. However, the best thing about the movie is the cinematography. Adriano Goldman’s work here is quite possibly the best of the year. For a movie with a low budget it does not have the “indie” look that most low budget movies have. It looks like the kind of movie a studio would release during Oscar season. The cinematography is definitely Oscar-worthy.

Sin Nombre is the most disturbing movie I’ve ever seen. It is not because it is full of gruesome images, but because it is way too realistic. However, that does not take away from the fact that it is an expertly crafted film that is among the very best of the year.

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