While the story in and of itself is quite engrossing, it presents a largely one-dimensional view of Mexico as a land of violence with few honorable people.
At the same time, it presents no context to help the viewer understand who the gang members are, and how and why they — and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) itself — came to be.
For a debut feature film, Sin Nombre is exceptional.
Director Cary Fukunaga shows an assuredness and maturity that belie his 32 years.
The result is a powerfully dramatic and gritty film.
It is also uncompromisingly and realistically brutal, and certainly not for the squeamish.“I didn’t write it as a political film,” the filmmaker asserted.“I wasn’t trying to change anyone’s mind.” Instead, he stated that he wanted viewers to have an “experience” and to “make up their own minds.” The question is, what is it that he wants people to make up their own minds about?We rarely hear about the immigrants of Latin America, but their circumstances and that quest for a better life mirror those of immigrants around the world and throughout history: the Vietnamese Boat People who moved Superior General, Father Pedro Arrupe SJ, to found the Jesuit Refugee Service; the Albanians who lost their lives trying to escape the genocide in their country; or those migrants who flee civil war, political instability, poverty and famine in the Horn of Africa. Interestingly, however, one of the assistant directors of Sin Nombre described the theme of the film as ‘exodus, not immigration’.And this is certainly a film of biblical proportions in places, culminating in the crossing of ‘the River Jordan’ at the end (or is it the River Styx? Those fleeing poverty and oppression climb onto the roofs of trains heading northwards through Mexico towards the US border. They are welcomed warmly by some of the locals who throw fruit up to them, and aggressively by others who pelt them with stones.privileges the gang-related drama to a great extent.And in doing so in the way that it does, the film paints a picture of Mexico — and, by extension, its people — that is anything but flattering.The movie revolves around a young member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, Willy, and a young Honduran woman, Sayra, who is trying to reach the United States with her uncle and her father, recently deported from New Jersey, and who she hasn’t seen since she was a child.The two teenagers’ paths cross on the top of a freight train, an efficient but highly dangerous form of transportation for migrants traveling to “el Norte.” On the trip, Sayra develops — rather far-fetchedly — a deep attachment to Willy as he tries to outrun his former gang brothers intent on hunting him down.Undoubtedly there is a lot of brutal violence — perpetrated by Mexican authorities, gang members, and bandits — associated with the migrant passage from southern Mexico to the United States. Meanwhile, more than 5,000 migrant bodies have been recovered in the U.And, in addition to the deaths and injuries brought about by such brutality, innumerable migrants lose their lives or limbs each year by falling off and underneath what many call the “train of death” or “the beast.” provides a valuable glimpse into these varied forms of violence, but the film doesn’t give the viewer a sense of the frequent nature of the fatalities and injuries associated with the train itself. S.-Mexico borderlands since 1995, a tragic manifestation of the boundary’s “hardening.” In addition to such misrepresentation, the movie effectively exculpates the United States for its role in helping to make Mexico a grueling zone of passage for migrants from Central America and beyond.