Sin Nombre

2009

Sin Nombre

Critics Consensus

Part harrowing immigration tale, part gangster story, this debut by writer/director Cary Fukunaga is sensitive, insightful and deeply authentic.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 118

89%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 21,276
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Movie Info

Sayra, a teenager living in Honduras, hungers for a brighter future. A reunion with her long-estranged father gives Sayra her only real option--emigrating with her father and her uncle into Mexico and then the United States, where her father now has a new family. Meanwhile, Casper, is a teenager living in Tapachula, Mexico. A member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang brotherhood, he has just brought to the Mara a new recruit, 12-year-old Smiley. While Smiley quickly takes to gang life, Casper tries to protect his relationship with girlfriend Martha Marlene, keeping their love a secret from the Mara. But when Martha encounters Tapachula's Mara leader Lil' Mago, she is brutally taken from Casper forever. Sayra and her relatives manage to cross over into Mexico and join other immigrants waiting at the Tapachula train yards. When a States-bound freight train arrives one night, they successfully rush to board--riding atop it, rather than in the cars--as does Lil' Mago, who has commandeered Casper and Smiley along to rob immigrants. When day breaks, Lil' Mago makes his move and Casper in turn makes a fateful decision. Casper must now navigate the psychological gauntlet of his violent existence and the physical one of the unforgiving Mara, but Sayra bravely allies herself with him as the train journeys through the Mexican countryside towards the hope of new lives.

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Critic Reviews for Sin Nombre

All Critics (118) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (104) | Rotten (14)

  • It's a tribute to the visceral impact of the staging that the film retains its grip despite becoming somewhat predictable, while thematically it's the usual cycle-of-violence hand wringing.

    Aug 14, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • For all its formal élan and gritty location shooting, Sin Nombre is a wearily hollow, morally specious movie.

    Aug 14, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • If you've ever got your hands on a second-hand set of Operation, you'll know how it feels to watch the latest addition to the slum drama stable. Most parts are present and correct, but there's definitely something missing - a heart, perhaps?

    Aug 14, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Likely to be one of the must-see foreign language titles of the year, opening our eyes to a world of desperation, hope and pain.

    Aug 14, 2009 | Rating: 3/5
  • The film will linger in the mind long after its devastating conclusion. You leave the cinema breathless and disquieted but also with a sense of having had something important revealed to you. In a very strong field, this is the year's best film so far.

    Aug 14, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • The actors, particularly Flores, have a documentary reality about them. Their reactions to most of their predicaments, even the ones given away too easily by the script, are real in the most human sense.

    May 13, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sin Nombre

  • Jul 07, 2012
    When it comes to drama movie I personally enjoys the foreign ones better for several reasons. Sin Nombre (Nameless in English) surpassed my expectations and is in fact a great drama. Sin Nombre tells the story of two teenagers who journey across Mexico for a better life in the United States. I'll admit I didn't expect much from the plot seeing that our main male protagonist was a gang member with mix feelings about what he does and his type of character have be done before. He was actually more interesting than I expected, gripping, relevant, and most of all realistic. Realism is something you can expect from the plot, not once did I ever feel I was watching a movie as it pulled me into it haunting atmosphere with allot of emotion behind. What I like about it most of all are the characters, they're so relatable and worth caring which helps it standout from so many similar movies. I thought the ending was appropriate and made it that much better leaving the audience making an impact on the audience on the overall journey. While I'm not an expert on immigration I do feel this helps portray it accurately. Sin Nombre has a memorable gripping story to tell and it'll deliver a great experience that a drama should. I had no who idea who director Cary Fukunaga was before this movie, but he certainly has my attention now. He masterfully crafted a thought provoking movie with so much thought put into the story he's telling. The cinematography can be breathtaking and exhilarating throughout, seeing the landscape of Mexico has never been so amazing and mesmerizing. Our young actors in particular bring these characters to life with phenomenal success. They're portrayal of these characters made the movie more realistic and authentic. Whenever anything happened to them on screen I felt emotionally attach to them, they're journey made me go through so many emotions. A fantastic production and a well written plot makes Sin Nombre a great experience. Sin Nombre is phenomenal drama worth your time whether or not not if this is your kind of movie. Sin Nombre is simply mesmerizing, it's a drama I personally recommend you check out.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 18, 2012
    Takes me back to the classic films. Most foreign films remind me of the classics because of capitalism. Yes that is right, in a capitalist country films start to worsen. In a capitalist country all people care about is making money so they don't care if there films are good or bad as long as they make money. In a socialist country where money is more equally distributed all they care about is making a good film considering that they won't make much on it. The whole point of capitalism is to advance. The more we advance the worse our films get. I worry for the future of film making(in the US). Socialist countries are behind the US so there films are like the classic American films. Of course this is not a socialist film but you should be able to get what I'm getting at. As for the film it self, it was really good. The plot was simple and to the point. There where no unnecessary scenes so people that love good story telling should like this. The dialogue was great. I understand Spanish so I didn't have to read the subtitles. There where some things that where off like the fact that La Mara Salvatrucha barely operates in Mexico. But things like that shouldn't bring down the rating. This is a film not a documentary. I would recommend this to people that like good story telling.
    Eduardo T Super Reviewer
  • Feb 26, 2012
    This is one distressing film that was a unrelenting, tense, violent cautionary tale of two young souls who meet at fate and their dangerous journey to escape their proplems in their homeland and travel by train to the United States for freedom and a fresh start but ill-fated ways soon follows. The performances were so believable in this that you feel like you are watching a documentary but the way that it was filmed was epic and haunting and quite an experience as if you were right there with them and all the more unsettling and sad that this is actually going on. The violence in this is very graphic and brutal like in most gangster movies but this also has thrilling, edgy adventure with such heart ache and dread that it was an emotional rollercoaster of never ending obstacles. The movie takes its time in the beginning to introduce us to its characters and you get a glimpse inside their world and how they live and survive depravity and poverty which is a tragic and captivating sight but once the escape comes to the open it never lets up and you're on the edge of your seat from there on out with a bittersweet and bleak conclusion that was full of devastation and expected but full of hope for one character and for that it was satisfyingly real. Overall this is a much overlooked film that deserves much more recognition than it got and needs to be seen because it's definitely the most eye-opening film I've seen in awhile. Recommended!
    Matt S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 30, 2011
    This movie was really good. It showed the true side of being in a gang. Everyone in the gang says they are brothers forever and will help each other out whenever it's necessary, then they go and beat/betray/kill each other. It was really disturbing to see the little boy, Smiley, become a gang member because he thought it was cool. He was so young, and was already killing people. It was an awesome movie. Really sad, but really good. The bond between Sayra and Willy was cute, though she was a very, very stupid girl. Jumping off a train to follow a member of a brutal gang? Yeah, not the smartest idea. I really like the movie though. It was sooo good.
    Japes . Super Reviewer

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