Sin Nombre

"OK"

Sin Nombre Review


Sighted in tortillas, toast, and rock formations worldwide, Jesus appears yet again on the big screen in Cary Joji Fukunaga's border-crossing debut Sin Nombre. This time our Lord is reincarnated as El Caspar (Edgar Flores), a youthful hood in gang-ridden Tapachula who attempts to balance his high-ranking position in the Mara Salvatchura, a leading Mexican gang, with his relationship with his outspoken girlfriend Martha Marlene (Diana Garcia).

Nombre opens with Caspar tutoring 12-year-old Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer) on the finer points of gang life, principally how to cover your hombres. To Smiley, watching Caspar grab a quickie with Martha is the best advertisement for being a gangster imaginable. The would-be hoodlum certainly doesn't find much honor in the execution he is forced to carry out nor the beating he receives during his initiation. But, unlike Smiley, Caspar has become numb to these images. Even the sight of a rival gang-member's entrails being fed to the Mara Salvatchura's German shepherds is commonplace.

What Caspar is not prepared for is Salvatchura leader Lil' Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejia) raping and accidentally murdering Martha. Mago's apology comes in the form of a beating. Later, as Mago attempts to rape a Honduran teen named Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), Caspar drives a machete into the fully-inked gang leader. To atone for Caspar's betrayal, Smiley then is commanded to track down and execute his one-time teacher.

Fukunaga's inspiration comes from wanting to shed light on the Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans that traverse even more hard earth than Mexicans to cross the border to America. Sayra, who we are introduced to early in the film, is making this very journey with her brother and father, with whom she has an uneasy relationship. But with the exception of some early scenes where Sayra and her brother are forced to learn the phone number for their father's American family, not much is made of the process of going the extra distance.

In fact, the story of Sayra and Caspar riding the rails -- on top of the trains -- to get to the new world isn't an especially captivating one, despite a solid script written by the director and Adriano Goldman's gorgeous cinematography. There are moments of intensity, such as a shoot-out in a small town between the Mara and a rival gang and a short scene where Smiley discusses executing Caspar with some younger friends. Bur the film lacks tension and specificity once they leave Tapachula. Caspar is a doomed character, and Fukunaga makes quite a big deal of making sure the audience knows that, even as he indulges in a subtle romance with Sayra.

Every year will bring its own immigration drama and, ignoring the utterly abhorrent Crossing Over, Sin Nombre seems fit to fill that specific marketplace spot for 2009. Though it doesn't have the procedural suspense of Maria Full of Grace nor the atmospheric dread of last year's Sangre de Mi Sangre, Sin Nombre isn't so much a bad movie as it is an unremarkable one. The final shot of Caspar, which ties up the Christ complex with a big bright bow, completes our expectations, as does Sayra's phone call, which brings this tale of moral absolutes to a close.

Sin condón.



Sin Nombre

Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th May 2009

Box Office USA: $2.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $5.1M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Universal Studios

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 103 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Producer: Amy Kaufman

Starring: as Sayra, as El Casper, Kristian Ferrer as El Smiley, as Lil Mago, as Martha Marlene, Luis Fernando Peña as El Sol, Héctor Jiménez as Leche/ Wounded Man

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.