Starring: Paulina Gaitan, Edgar Flores, Luis Fernando Peña
Directed by: Cary Fukunaga (debut)
Written by: Cary Fukunaga (debut)

While many films about immigration have come and gone throughout the years, very few are compelling enough to resonate through all the recognizable tales of struggle, sacrifice, and pain most stories usually chose as their main theme. In “Sin Nombre,” however, director Cary Fukunaga is able to take a multilayered idea for the first feature film of his career and construct a terrifying and poetic world one soon won’t forget.

Atop a train going from Honduras through the length of Mexico, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a young Honduran girl, a travels with her brother and estranged father to the border with plans to get to New Jersey. Plans change when Sayra meets Willy (Edgar Flores) AKA Casper, a troubled young man who is traveling the rails to escape the gang he no longer wants to call his brotherhood.

Turning his back on the Mara Salvatrucha gang, however, isn’t something the group takes lightly. With members in different parts of Mexico, leaders of the gang put a mark on Willy and try to hunt him down before he can make it to the U.S. While Sayra has her own life to live, she builds a friendship with Willy during their journey. Both realize they need each other if they want to survive the tedious trip across Mexico. Portraying the protagonists of the film, Gaitan and Flores are subtly sublime in their performances and carry each other wonderfully through most of their scenes together.

With many of the scenes taking place on the top of a moving train, Fukunaga and cinematographer Adriano Goldman create a beautiful albeit lonely backdrop for our characters to understand their motivation for making such a dangerous trek for a new life. While there is little hope in the eyes of Sayra and Willy, Fukunaga delivers a stunningly confident and very authentic narrative that is both well-developed and deeply moving.

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