Sin Nombre - Blu-ray Review

'incredibly well realised stuff from a director who you'll want to keep an eye on'

A South American film, shot by an American director who will soon reveal his version of Jane Eyre (with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, amongst others), Sin Nombre is a hugely impressive debut feature from writer/director Cary Fukunaga which deals with ideas of escape and identity as experienced South of the border.

Through his two quiet leads (Edgar Flores and Paulina Gaitan), who occasionally struggle when left alone together but excel when they have more confident company, Fukunaga weaves a delicate tale, exploring the possibility of both escaping from the gang culture of Mexico and escaping a South American-based life of poverty in general. It's a difficult tale to tell and Fukunaga carefully balances the elements of gang life which El Casper (Flores) is involved in with the more day to day aspirations of Sayra (Gaitan), giving a rounded view that never feels sensationalist or overly critical.

The problems? The tale Fukunaga chooses to explore his themes is incredibly, perhaps even painfully, predictable, consistently telegraphing character conclusions and plot developments which are visible even to the uninitiated viewer. The Blu-ray version also adds nine un-needed minutes onto the tighter ninety-six minute cut shown at Sundance, turning a breezy but vicious travelogue into an occasionally ponderous slog.

Even in a story this predictable though, there is beauty to be found in watching it unfold and in Fukunaga's glorious visuals, which turn the scene where our cast spend roughly a third of their time (the top of a train) from a bright vista of passing South America, to a bubbling and malicious war zone and back again. It's not perfect, but it is incredibly well realised stuff from a director who you'll want to keep an eye on.

Look further...

'The message that gangs are bad and immigration is difficult isn’t eye-opening or surprising, but what is surprising is how strongly it resonates' - John Likes Movies, 3/5

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