It’s a rare thing to witness a film debut as blistering as this one from young American filmmaker Cary Fukunaga, particularly one that handles such a difficult subject with both skill and intelligence. Set in the ganglands and slums of Honduras, Sin Nombre is tough to watch but a powerful piece of cinema nevertheless.
Willy (Edgar Flores) is charged with inducting a young boy named Smiley (Kristian Ferrer) into his local gang, a violent group of men and boys who think nothing of killing rivals on sight. Willy’s secret relationship with a local girl is taking up much of his time, however, and when she meets a horrific end at the hands of gang leader Sol (Louis Fernando Pena) his loyalties are severely tested. During a raid on a train heading for the Mexican border, Willy snaps and kills Sol – an action that puts his own live in serious danger. On the same train is Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) and her family, hoping for a new life in the States; seeing a kindred spirit in Willy the pair strike up an unlikely alliance, one that will have serious repercussions for them both.
For a first time filmmaker, Fukunaga shows a flair for authenticity and human drama, crafting an exhilarating, moving and utterly absorbing thriller. The cast is, without exception, absolutely superb; these are brave performances that bring these difficult characters to life without resorting to cultural cliché. Despite the violence and brutality that defines their lives, Willy and Sarya manage to make a connection, and it is by keeping an intimate focus on their experiences – rather that attempting to make a wider political statement – that Fukunaga gives his film the emotional heart that really packs a punch. Eloquent, elegant and utterly heartbreaking, Sin Nombre is one of the most exciting pieces of cinema we’ve seen in a long time. 5 stars
There’s a great commentary, plus deleted scenes. 3 stars
Director Cary Fukunaga
Stars Edgar Flores, Paulina Gaitan
Distributor Revolver Entertainment
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Released Out Now