Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Sin Nombre. A
Though it didn't appear on my list of the best movies of 2009, 'Sin Nombre' was one of the year's best. Last year it played at Sundance and subsequently won awards for direction (Cary Joji Fukunaga) and cinematography (Adriano Goldman). Later it had its theatrical release and has since then been put out on DVD. If you haven't watched it yet I encourage you to get a copy and see it. The film is about Mexican immigrants trying to make it to the U.S via the roof of a train. It weaves two interconnecting narratives that have seemingly no relation together. One concerns Willy (Edgar Flores) and a young boy name Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer), who is being initiated by Willy into a violent gang known as Mara Salvatrucha. The other story is about Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a teenage girl who is trying to make it to the States with her father and uncle. Traveling by the roof of a train, they soon become victims of one of the gang's raids, as Willy, Smiley, and the gang leader attack the train and demand money. Seeing the malevolence of the gang leader, Willy then kills him. Smiley then leaves and returns to the gang while Wily, wanting to end his association with the Mara, remains a top the train and forms a relationship with Sayra. For a movie that is only 96 minutes long, 'Sin Nombre' manages to fit an enormous amount into the story. But it knows what it's doing the entire time and maintains its focus without getting sloppy or pretentious. I think the greatest thing about the movie is the realism it possesses and that it never strays away from it. The movie doesn't end the way we want it to end, but the way it's supposed to end. 'Sin Nombre' is bold and unflinching and the result is a spectacular display of an artist's craft in top form. That artist is of course Fukunaga, who, with his first major film, shows a remarkable sense of time and place as well as the ability to guide a scene to its emotional core. He gets the most out of his actors, all of whom are brilliant here, and together with his DP Adriano Goldman he captures one gorgeous shot after another of the southern panorama. The tragedy in 'Sin Nombre' is also its strength. It's a film that come through on all cylinders and the result is a nearly perfect piece of moviemaking.