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Sin Nombre

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Sin Nombre is devastating. I could tell by the poster. I guess that’s why it took me so long to watch it. First impression? All I can say is that sometimes it is humbling to get punched in the stomach. The adrenaline rushes the body like a hit of euphoria to numb the pain, and then by the time that wears off, a humility lingers.

Sin Nombre‘s blow comes in the form of gang war picture – in the vein of City of God but minus the over-stylized post Quentin Tarantino pop.  Refreshingly, in Sin Nombre, all that trickery is replaced with a heavy dose of heart, curtesy of its very relevant immigration story that intersects the film a quarter of the way in.  And at a time when all we hear up north is how lawless Mexico is, this film shows us just what that might look like; complete with kids turning metal pipes into viable homemade shotguns.

The story centers on Casper, a member of Los Maras gang in Chiapas, and Sayra, a beautiful Hondurian immigrant traveling with her estranged father and uncle to La America. Their lives intersect when Casper decides to save her from the hands of his own gang leader.  Marking him as all but dead, he is forced to flee north along with Sayra and her family. There is no need to say much more except that what comes before and after is graphic and unforgiving. Yet despite this backdrop, the humanity is so gripping and the characters are so tender and real that the viewer is not emotionally shut down – instead – they are opened into a flow of empathy.

Lastly its worth mentioning that the film looks great (shot by Adrian Goldman of Brazil) and the casting is impeccable. Using real gang members complete with face tattoos help keep it all real, while Edgar Flores as Casper holds the camera better than anyone I have seen in a long time.  You can see why Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna wanted their name on this one (they are credited as Executive Producers), it is a film that welcomes the next generation of great Mexican actors to the world stage.





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