Staring Edgar Flores and Paulina Gaitan. In Spanish with English subtitles. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, April 17, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Watch the trailer for Sin Nombre.
Like most British Columbians, I have occasionally caught glimpses of the Latin America that tourists are never supposed to see. Around the glittering resort hotels stretch unpaved streets upon which no gringo has ever set foot. Then there are the people with haunted faces, standing by the side of the road, crowded into the backs of pickup trucks, desperately searching for a way out of poverty and despair.
Everything we see in Sin Nombre belongs to this harsh, unforgiving world. Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) and her family are riding the rails from Honduras to the Rio Grande in the hopes of making their way as far north as New Jersey. Casper (Edgar Flores), meanwhile, is just trying to stay alive after settling an account with his boss in Chiapas, Mexico, fatalistically coming to terms with the fact that his former gang has branches everywhere. Although he’s anything but an ideal catch, Sayra warms to this sensitive but violent loner, sensing that their destinies are somehow intertwined. In the meantime, gunmen are closing in from behind.
California-born writer-director Cary Fukunaga does an excellent job of keeping the film’s neorealistic and thriller elements in balance. Sin Nombre manages to be exciting without reducing human suffering to mere grist for the entertainment mill. Fukunaga has a strong sense of place and absolutely no tolerance for sentimentality, since he realizes that his protagonists have already lost far too much to shed a tear at the drop of a hat (or even a head).