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4.5 out of 5 stars37
4.5 out of 5 stars
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I'm going to resist giving this film 5 stars, although I couldn't argue if you think it deserves it. I was very good. Inevitably it will draw comparisons with 'City of God' and 'Elite Squad', but in my eyes it wasn't as good - hence 4 stars.

That's not to say it wasn't still very good though - it was. We basically follow two threads of a story that intertwine halfway through and lead up to the films final events.

MS13, the notorious Latin American street gang, feature heavily in this film, but ultimately, that is not really what this film is about. There is much more to it than that and to group in it with such films would do it an injustice.

The film itself is both beautiful (the South American scenery) and brutal (the depiction of gang life is unflinching) in equal measures and fans of films about both gang culture and South American culture will lap it up.

I myself thoroughly enjoyed the journey (quite literally) from start to finish and Sin Nombre cleverly addressed two issues synonimous with Latin America (immigration & gang culture) in a way that was incidental rather than the focus of the film - the result was quite spectacular and something you're sure to love.
22 comments4 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 October 2009
I saw this film in the cinema late in August and it was absolutely brilliant. It has all the hallmarks of a good film and is a thriller, gangster film and travel movie all at the same time. Especially interesting if you are interested in the contemporary issue of the mass, illegal immigration into the United states from Central America - it opens a revealing window onto the plight of the migrants trying to make the journey towards the States; a journey riddled with danger which only a few will complete. This film is in competition with 'the motorcycle diaries` to be my favourite Latin American film, and if I had to pick one of the two, it would be this. Buy it, you will not be disappointed. (Please read on)

Ok this a whole year later, after I have bought the DVD and re-watched the film. It is still bloody good - especially considering the low budget it was filmed on - and I would not alter my above comments. However, the film will not have the same effect on you second time around - it is not one of those that gets better every time you re-watch it. The reason for this is that it is a visceral one-hit impact film - it grabs you because you do not know what is going to happen, rather than because of a well crafted storyline. Watching it again, once you know what is going to happen, the film loses its thrilling feel and leaves you with not a lot else in the way of variation (most of the film takes place on a train).

However, this is obviously a comment made after a second viewing (I loved it first time around) and you definitely have to see this film. There ARE some expert scenes, such as the tour of the hideout of the 'Mara Salvatrucha' gang amonst others. Watch it and you will love it. Watch it second time and you will see my retrospective criticism.
33 comments48 of 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This film is a mixed bag. It's about illegal border-crossing, about teenage love and betrayal, and also about gang culture and crime networks. To the director's credit it steps lightly through all these without becoming lightweight. This is not a preachy film, just informative as well as entertaining.

The varying Mexican landscapes and traditional music help to remind one that the travellers are moving through a country, not just a huge slum next door to the USA.

Quite a predictable film, but still well worth a look. For a more intense look at South American life caught between crime gangs and corrupt cops, you'll want to see City Of God.
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on 2 April 2013
It may be set in one of the most poverty stricken places of the world but there is so much colour and vibrancy that create some stunning visuals. The narrative that focuses on kids escaping this life of violence, poverty and desperation could be similar to a Shane Meadows film but council houses and industrial wasteland is replaced by brightly coloured but crudely constructed shanty towns. The subject is a dark and brutal reality but the imagery is so strong and the directing so beautiful, even Terrence Malick like, you can't help but be hypnotized and marvel at its pure and natural beauty.
It is this slow, minimal, ponderous beauty that makes it more than just a gang culture film, though gang culture is still an important aspect of it that it doesn't ignore and shows it all in its harsh brutality. The Malick like quality is what makes this unique and stand out from `Elite Squad' or the excellent `City Of God'.
The plot is basic and we learn very little about the characters, their backstories, home life, parents, relatives ect. This could be a flaw in some films but within this it is clearly a deliberate choice to show these characters are just some of the thousands of people in South America who have to live the same lives, deal with the same problems and share the same dream. The actors are excellent and give really touching and raw performances whilst avoiding melodrama.
It is so strong and hard to put into words. An amazing experience everyone should watch it.
Once you've seen it, you can't forget it.
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on 7 January 2010
My fav movie of 2009 by a country mile. Breathtaking combination of gangster genre film, romance, adventure, action and a glimpse into a fascinating world. Un-missable.
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on 24 April 2010
If you are into gang films or just gang related stuff this isnt a bad little film, gritty realistic subject matter and people.Very well made and the cinematography is excellent. Not too in depth about the gang culture, but far better than other so called gang films. If you want the real thing try to find the documentary '18 with a bullit' that is the real deal. But this is worth the money I reckon.
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on 12 July 2011
A unique movie, telling the story of Sayra, a girl desperate to emigrate from Honduras and see her estranged father again, and Casper a young boy being raised into a tough gang culture, in Mexico. They end up crossing paths at the end.

Semi-epic, dramatic and moving drama that intertwines 2 emotive and similar stories. Gritty, raw and almost low-budget in feel, the movie captures low level poverty and a tough seediness for the 2 young adults.

For many this film will be too slow, too real and harsh, and ultimately too serious a piece of world cinema drama. It does lack entertainment and action but it is a poignant flash of a tough life story in Honduras. It is a commendable, noteworthy piece of world cine, and thus a unique cult type of watch.
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on 7 March 2011
This is an excellent film as one would expect with Gael Garcia Bernal being one of the executive producers; but be warned it is a tough film and not for the squeamish or fainthearted. It deals with a real problem theat Mexico is struggling to cope with, the problem of South American immigrants crossing Mexico to find a better life in the US and what happens when they fall into the hands of the narcotic cartels,excellently wrapped around an unlikely love story; and ties in well with Amnesty International's Youtube films "The Invisibles" which Garcia presents. I first saw this on the big screen but the lack of mass distribution in England means this may be your only opportunity to see the film. Well worth the money.Spanish with subtitles.
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on 12 April 2010
Really good movie, a raw depiction of the plight of Mexican migrants trying to enter the US for a better life coupled with the portrayal of the repurcussions of becoming embroiled in the Mara, one of Mexico's most brutal gangs.

Beautifully shot, excellently acted, well recommended to anyone who is fond of similar titles such as City of God

a must see
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on 29 November 2010
The movie wasn't quite what I expoected, though it did keep us invovled to the end. As with many movies today the storyline was relativley predictable, but enhanced by strong acting and effective sets. The movie ran at a good pace without being an overload of your senses.

The movie certainly gave a realistic view of life in an Hispanic gang, what it meant and how litle life is valued
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