I think it's important to note that I came into this movie with very high expectations. Although I had never heard of it until about March, it quickly became one of my most anticipated films of the year. I'd never heard of writer/director Cary Fukunaga, but the subject matter as well as the high praise from many critics had me salivating when I realized I might get a chance to see in while I was in Austin. My sister was kind enough to humor me and go to that movie instead of the new one from Michael Caine, and off we went to a nice little Regal independent theater in Austin.
This film is about two different individuals, a Mexican gang member and a restless Honduran girl, and how their worlds collide on a train carrying illegal immigrants across Mexico to the United States. I don't want to spoil any details of the plot, but I will say that there are some pretty brutal moments in this film with lots of gang violence. I've heard that it isn't proper to describe one film by comparing it to another, but in the case of Sin Nombre the comparison is too accurate to ignore. It falls right between City of God and Slumdog Millionaire in subject matter and tone, and all three movies feature themes of young love, gang violence involving children, and poverty.
Obviously illegal immigration is a huge theme in this movie, but it is far from politically charged, instead focusing on the humanity of its characters and garnering plenty of sympathy for them. I found it very easy to root for these people and separate the characters from the issue itself. I am definitely in favor of more stringent measures when dealing with illegal immigrants, but at the same time you can't wish ill will upon another human being. Issues such as poverty and corrupt government in Mexico need to be addressed in a serious, aggressive way in order to make any progress with the illegal immigration problem, but if this film is any indication, the situation is virtually hopeless. Even for the ones who make it, it still must be bittersweet considering many leave their loved ones behind, and might not ever get to see them again. It's a choice that I'm blessed to have not had to make, and I thank God for that!
I know I've been sufficiently vague about the film itself, but let me assure you that this is a great movie which lived up to my high expectations. It's not as devastatingly beautiful as City of God, or as expansive and daring as Slumdog Millionaire, but Sin Nombre does have some amazing, unique cinematography and great young actors who make this tale survival ultimately rewarding. I highly recommend this film as it's one of my favorite of the year so far, and I personally can't wait to see it again soon.