Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sin Nombre

This 2009 Mexican drama by Cary Fukunaga follows two stories that intersect because their stories are not only headed to the same place, but are, in reality, the same story. One is that of a Guatemalan young man who goes by Casper and is a member of MS13, the nasty gang that stretches from California through all of Mexico and Central America. He is beginning to doubt his ways, but only in harmless ways, that is until something awful happens, at which point his doubts become a straight up drive to escape. He sees the possibility on a train that runs from south of Honduras clear to Texas. Problem is, the train ride itself may well be more dangerous than his life in Guatemala. But the train, has a defined end, his life, outside of death, doesn't really. The other story is that of a good, but very poor, Honduran girl, who was abandoned by her father 14 years ago. The movie picks up with her father showing up out of the blue, begging for her to come with him back to his home in New Jersey. Problem is, he's also pretty damn poor and spent just about all his money getting back to her. His solution, take that same train. This movie is really about the present state of things in our little Western world.This idea that one always has a choice, each individual shapes his or her life by their choices. This doesn't mean they are easy one's or that what we think will lead to betterment will actually do so, but it's our choice to make. It's also a movie about the quest for autonomy. We want more choices, more options. I don't mean this in a selfish way, sometimes, I can only imagine, it feels like we must seek more autonomy. What I mean is that there is something imbedded in our Western way of doing things that makes so many feel like there is always a better option out there. In the case of some characters in this flick, the grass on the other side was decidedly worse and they never should've made the decision to leave, but for others in the film, deciding to leave was likely the best decision they'd ever make. The point is, catching that train, heading out of town, to another place, another country, is indicative of our Western way and the results vary widely. Fukunaga spent two years in Mexico and Central America living with members of MS13, traveling on the very train line from the movie and trying to come to an understanding of those willing to take such risks, to go so far. He also shot the movie down there, on that train and cast many unknowns and non-professionals. It shows. The movie feels genuine, it feels truly informed. It's like, not only are you really seeing it, but you're experiencing it. The stories are engaging, the performances fantastic and the maverick style of shooting it makes the visuals very interesting. See this movie, even if you're not a subtitles kind of person.

Worth Watching.

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