SIN NOMBRE: screw the issues, let's make a movie!

The Hurt Locker seems to be fighting the trend, the norm is to lure audiences with a few cool-looking battle scenes and then hit them with a barrage of moralizing opinion. The list of films that fit this category is edging toward endless: Lions for Lambs, In the Valley of Elah, Stop-Loss etc etc. The same was in danger of becoming true with immigration. Reams of dramas, recently headed by The Visitor, strive to teach us the value of immigrants and of tolerance. The trouble is that these are things we can't be told, these are things we learn, and things we experience. Films have the power to do that, by telling us these stories and letting us think for ourselves. Luckily this is something that writer/director Cary Fukunaga realised when he devised the exciting, intriguing and dramatic thriller Sin Nombre. After making a short film on the subject of immigration, Fukunaga travelled central America researching material for a feature film. He travelled atop trains loaded with emigrants, spoke to those who left their homeland, and visited imprisoned gangsters to discuss human trafficking. From this fertile source material he has created a group of characters and a series of interwoven story that fizzes with excitement, but utterly lacks judgement and pretension. The plot tracks several key protagonists. The first is Sayra, a young girl from the Honduras. Comfortable at home, but at risk of being sucked into the poverty that surrounds her, she see a chance for escape when her father returns from the US (where he resides illegally) and offers to aid Sayra and her older brother on the long and dangerous journey. The other main man of the piece is El Caspar (a.k.a Willy). A member of one of the legendary Mexican Maras, he is living life on the edge. Worse still, he is dragging his younger brother (dubbed 'El Smiley') along with him. Soon his exploits catch up with him, and after a dramatic crossing of paths with Sayra he is forced to flee Mexico, and ends up accompanying Sayra and her family. It's a drama, a romance and a thriller, but make no mistake - Sin Nombre pulls no punches in delivery a raw, powerful film that is not afraid to shrug aside genre convention for the sake of some hard-hitting realism. Danger is not merely a plot point or a moral in this film, it is an ever-present tension that often causes casualties. There are fatal gunfights, encounters with immigration police and train accidents, with lots more beside. The story never sits still for a moment and it makes for compelling viewing. For me, however, the biggest bonus of this film was the cinematography. As a former master of the trade himself, director Cary Fukunaga has paid some close attention to the look of the film and it has paid dividends. Equally stunning in close-up urban grit as expansive wide-shots of Central American countryside, the imagery that accompanies this great tale is really worth seeing on the big screen. As far as I'm concerned, this is a movie that ticks all the boxes. It's stylish, fun and entertaining, but never flippant or hollow. Those are things that're tough to get right, but it's worth the effort when you see results like this.

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Michael J Edwards hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.