VIDEO: The trailer for Sin Nombre
Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire purported to expose American audiences to the wretched poverty in far away Mumbai. But it's a fairy-tale Mumbai, and the film indulges voyeurism as it placates the conscience. The brutal world of Cary Joji Fukunaga's debut feature lies just over the border, and like Boyle he shot on location with non-actors. But though his film is harsher in outlook and lacks a Bollywood ending, his "realistic" sensibility is just as artificial.
Cute Sayra (Paulina Gaitán) flees Honduras for the United States with her father and uncle. Casper (Edgar Flores), meanwhile, has antagonized his fellow gang members in Mexico and is heading north as well.
No surprises ensue when their paths cross, and though the details might be sensationalistic, the conventions of manipulative melodrama prevail. Fukunaga's intentions may be honorable, but films like Sin nombre exploit their subjects as much as they empathize with them.