Compelling But Excessive
Release Date: March 20, 2009
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 96 minutes
Distributor: Focus Features
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Producer: Amy Kaufman
Writer: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Address Comments To:James Schamus, President
Focus Features/Rogue Pictures
A Division of NBC Universal and General Electric
65 Bleecker St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 539-4000
Fax: (212) 539-4099
The first one is the story of Smiley, a 10-year-old boy who is initiated into a violent gang by his mentor Willy. When Willy kills the gang leader because he murdered his girlfriend, Willy flees Honduras and meets up with Sayra.
Sayra is also fleeing Honduras with her estranged father and her uncle to go to New Jersey where her father has a new family. Sayra and Willy meet and begin having feelings for one another.
Traveling on top of a freight train, the characters make it all the way into Mexico. Many of the characters, however, don’t get this far. As Sayra and Willy are about to cross a small river into the United States, the gang members arrive to mete out revenge on Willy.
SIN NOMBRE is very moving and has strong emotions. While the main plot point is to illegally enter the U.S., the filmmakers mange to create sympathy for the characters. The performances are riveting and very natural, and the story contains such violence that it leaves you wondering who, if anyone, will survive until the end. The directing is very solid and very engaging.
While it is a well-made drama, there is much to warrant caution and discernment. Taking place in the underworld of gangs, there is an oddly occult element in the story. Characters reference the Devil often, and the actions of the body tattooed gang members are satanic in nature. For instance, they kill and then feed the dismembered body of a rival gang member to dogs in dog dishes.
The violence is extreme and there is much point blank shooting. Especially disturbing is the young boy Smiley learns to murder by killing people point blank. His desperation in life and his longing for fathers and brothers motivates him to become one of the killers. It is vile and disturbing to watch his decline from his initiation despite his grandmother’s protests until he becomes “worthy” to have a tattoo by killing.
There are also scenes with strong sexual content – as Smiley watches – along with excessive foul language.
All these elements and the movie’s lack of a solid redemptive worldview make the content of SIN NOMBRE unacceptably excessive.
SIN NOMBRE is very moving and has strong emotions. The performances are riveting and very natural. Taking place in the underworld of gangs, there is an occult element in the story. For instance, characters refer to the Devil. Also, the gang members kill and then feed the dismembered body of a rival to dogs. The violence is extreme. Especially disturbing is that the young boy Smiley learns to murder by killing people point blank. There are also scenes with strong sexual content, along with excessive foul language. All these elements together render SIN NOMBRE unacceptable entertainment.