Sin Nombre, Cary Fukunaga (2009)

He’s a gang member in Chiapas. She’s headed north from Tegucigalpa with her father and uncle to try to cross into the states. He saves her from one of his crew, which makes him a marked man, and her eternally grateful. And so they flee north together. The film produces a strange set of effects. It’s beautifully shot, the landscapes are dreamy, the actors gorgeous. At the same time there’s a near-documentary quality to it, since it’s clear the director did his homework to learn how the gangs operate, and how migrants make their way to the border. And then I suppose the third aspect would be the almost classical plot structure, with its clearly marked hamartia, anagnorisis, and peripeteia. I appreciate each of these aspects of the film, but the disparities between them causes me some cognitive dissonance as I find myself toggling between the sphere of my mind where I process documentary specificity and the one responsible for Shakespeare. I don’t know if that makes any sense; perhaps other minds aren’t so compartmentalized; perhaps it’s wrong for mine to be.

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