Box Office - 01/21/2009 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "The director filmed this tense blend of sociological drama and street thriller on real locations, working with a saturated palette that utilized natural decaying backgrounds with hot spots of color....It's always thrilling to discover an emerging talent with enormous potential."
Variety - 03/12/2009
"A big new talent arrives on the scene with SIN NOMBRE. Writer-director Cary Joji Fukunaga's enthralling feature debut takes viewers into a shadow world inhabited by many but noticed by few -- that of Central America migrants making the perilous trip through Mexico to get the United States border."
USA Today - 03/20/2009
"SIN NOMBRE is a powerful, wrenching thriller that weaves together several absorbing stories set in Central America. It is also the most moving and well-told saga of Latin American immigrants bound for the USA since 1983's EL NORTE."
Los Angeles Times - 03/20/2009
"[A]n evocative and impressive first feature....There is bitter and breathtaking truth in the story and in the story-telling..."
New York Times - 03/20/2009
"[SIN NOMBRE is] written and directed by the young American Cary Joji Fukunaga....What keeps you watching is his superb eye. Working with his cinematographer, Adriano Goldman, he fills in the cracks of his story with moments of beauty..."
Entertainment Weekly - 03/27/2009
"This Sundance prizewinner is a journalistic saga of immigration directed with a thriller's physicality by Cary Joji Fukunaga....Whenever SIN NOMBRE turns violent, it seizes you with its convulsive skill..." -- Grade: B-
Wall Street Journal - 03/20/2009
"This astonishing debut feature announces the arrival of a lavishly gifted filmmaker, Cary Joji Fukunaga....The scope is epic and the achievement, though solidly grounded in conventional storytelling, is a revelation."
Chicago Sun-Times - 04/01/2009 4 stars out of 4 -- "It contains risk, violence, a little romance, even fleeting moments of humor, but most of all, it sees what danger and heartbreak are involved. It is riveting from start to finish."
Total Film - 07/28/2009 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's the scenes of immigrants heading north atop moving trains which resonate the most -- a testament to Adriano Goldman's brilliant, expansive cinematography."
Chicago Sun-Times - 12/27/2009
Included in Chicago Sun-Times's "The Best Foreign Films Of 2009" -- "An extraordinary debut by Cary Fukunaga..."
USA Today - 12/31/2009 Ranked #4 in USA Today's "Top Ten Films Of 2009."
Cary Fukunaga has achieved something remarkable with his directorial debut. He has made an exceptional film, but he also may have settled the ongoing debate between the merits of film school versus "real-life" moviemaking experience. Not satisfied with either/or, Fukunaga did both. He originally wrote and developed SIN NOMBRE as his thesis project at NYU, and then honed the script at the Sundance Writers' Lab. But Fukunaga also spent the better part of two years researching his subject matter in Mexico and Central America, where he interviewed gang members (both in prison and on the street) and rode the tops of freight train cars along with hundreds of immigrants hoping to make it to America. For his dedication, Fukunaga was awarded the Best Director prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. SIN NOMBRE brilliantly combines the polish and craft of a superior education in filmmaking with the determined spirit and authenticity of a director whose story carries the weight of experience.
The film opens with a dull, droning hum, as the camera begins to slowly creep into a golden autumn forest--the sound and stubborn pace resemble a train groaning into motion, which is in fact what the film is about. Willy is fleeing from his former gang brothers, who are out for his blood. Accompanied by a father she barely knows, Sarya has left everything behind to find a mythic place called New Jersey. These two are strangers when they board the train in southern Mexico, but they will soon become the only thing that matters in each other's lives. But this is not a love story: the inexorable roll of the train is the subject of the film, such that the shocking, violent events of the narrative eventually come to feel as if they were inevitable.