Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sin Nombre *

Director: Cary Fukunaga
Cast: Edgar Flores, Paulina Gaitán
Tenoch Huerta, Kristian Ferrer, Diana García

"Sin Nombre" is a cautionary tale about the trials and tribulations of being an illegal immigrant or Central American.
Without questioning the sociopolitical contexts that trigger each country's behavior, debut director Fukunaga concocts a romanticized version of why the American dream exists for people south of the border.
For people like Sayra (Gaitán) it's a way to be reunited with the father she barely knows. She travels from Tegucigalpa, Honduras through Guatemala and Mexico aboard a train in which her personal safety is always at odds.
In Mexico there's gang member Willy aka El Casper (Flores) who flees his hometown after killing one his fellow gang "brothers".
He boards the same train Sayra's on and together they form a quasi-romantic bond as they deal with the consequences of their decisions.
Fukunaga's intention to convey the perils of illegal immigration are respectable, what's truly offensive is the selfrighteous way in which he delivers his story.
He comes up with every single cliché that would make tourists want to stay away from Central America and seems fascinated by the ritualistic violence of the gangs El Casper runs away from.
Deep inside Fukunaga isn't really interested in his characters, he's just interested in keeping them away from the United States.
He fills the movie with background details that might pass inadvertedly by people who don't speak Spanish or for people flattered by their faux social consciences.
The movie's soundtrack includes songs that might sound as popular Latin American music to people just following the melody, but listen carefully and the lyrics are talking about why immigrants should stay in their home countries and in a puzzling moment when the characters are referred to as "newcomers" in a shelter, the English subtitles choose to translate this as "immigrants", giving the impression that they are this before being people.
It's curious that Fukunaga then tries to redeem El Casper in the film's final scene-he does so in a river of all places (talk about lazy metaphors for purity)- because all throughout it's been obvious that the director in a way believes they all deserve what they're getting.
The movie's reactionary discourse all along has been saying "you live in hell, but you're better off staying there".

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