Sin Nombre

15 Nov

“Podrás huir de la muerte, pero nunca del amor”

“You can flee from death, but never from love”

During the summer, right at the peak of Boston’s unbearable combination of hot and humid, I decided to stay in and see if I could find a good movie on Netflix. “Sin Nombre” (Nameless) came right up and I thought, why not? It’s just up my alley. Seriously, in Spanish and about Mexico? I’m in.

I might be a little biased (I am from the border), but this movie blew me away. It was haunting and devastating, beautiful and tender. As I watched, I kept thinking about my home back in Mexico. No, my life back in Mexico. When I was little, I would go to the beach every weekend. When it was my birthday, the whole family would throw me a party. When I was in school, I was learning how to speak Spanish, German and English. After that, I also thought about where I am now. I couldn’t help saying to myself: I am so lucky.

A contemporary Mexican-American film, “Sin Nombre”, or Nameless, is about the journey that many people and families make every year. That is, the journey to the North and across the border to the land of milk and honey to the U.S of A. It involves two different stories.  One is about Honduran teenager Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) who seizes the opportunity to leave with her father, who has his family in the U.S. The second, is about Casper (Edgar Flores), who is forced into the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang and is then assigned to train a new recuit, Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer).

Eventually, these two stories intertwine and Sayra and Casper are left together to make it across the border. And the Mara Salvatrucha does not make it an easy or pretty journey. Like many contemporary Mexican films, “Sin Nombre” is gritty and violent. Don’t expect sugar-coated fight scenes, or any scenes at all, for that matter. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga does an amazing job at showing the brutality and cruelty of it all. But, he also has the rare gift of showing it’s beautiful, romantic side. The children, the view, and, of course, the cooking are shown warmly— those scenes where everyone is huddled together are just so comforting in comparison to the battles that come after.

Like El Callejón de los Milagros, these characters and their personalities change drastically with time as they become more exposed to poverty and violence. Watch how Smiley develops. It’s shocking and frightening. And to think, this is actually happening. This is real.

“Sin Nombre” (Nameless) was directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and won the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award and Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival of 2009.

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