Sin Nombre is a movie I’d seen pop up on a few different “best of” lists a few years ago. The Film Vault – a great weekly movie podcast by Anderson Cowan (famous for getting yelled at by Adam Carolla on Loveline) and Bald Bryan Bishop (famous for getting yelled at by Adam Carolla on the Adam Carolla Show) – has recommended this film for quite some time.
Sin Nombre is a 2009 deburt film by American film director Cary Fukunaga about the Mexican Mara Salvatrucha gang. In the opening scenes, Mara gang member Casper is seen recruiting a young boy – Smiley – to join the gang. Lil Mago the heavily tattooed gang leader (and when I say heavily tattooed, I’m talking more tattoos than the starting 5 of any NBA team combined) introduces Smiley to the gang by, of course, beating the tar out of him for 13 seconds.
Casper and Smiley are sent to go after a rival gang, but instead Casper goes to visit his girlfriend. After getting caught lying, Casper and Smiley are punished and viewed as not loyal to the gang.
Simultaneously, Sayra along with her uncle and father are trying to illegally immigrate from Honduras to New Jersey for a better life. They are planning on taking riding aboard the tops of various trains until they can reach the Mexican-US border.
I’m trying to be as spoiler-free as possible, but this is an incredible movie. At only 90 minutes, it’s incredibly fast movie while still allowing characters time to breathe and develop on screen. The movie is very thought provoking on many levels. First, the gang-related violence makes this a very dark and, at times, bleak movie. The overall hopelessness and poverty also might make you second guess your thoughts on illegal immigrants coming to America.
Overall, it’s a fantastic film especially for a first time director. The performances from all of the main characters where incredibly gritty and realistic. It reminded me an incredible amount of the 2009 HBO documentary “Which Way Home” (also available on Netflix right now) that I really enjoyed, as well. If you are a fan of really good cinema (regardless of the fact that you are going to have to “read” the movie subtitles), I can’t recommend this movie highly enough.
out of 10