The greatest sin of all is risking nothing.
A teenage girl (Paulina Gaitan) and a few family members leave Honduras for a better life up north; in Mexico, they’re joined by Willy (Edgar Flores) who finds himself on the run from his gang. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s debut is a cruel story about the reality behind the often dangerous trek that dirt-poor people make to the U.S. border. It takes a long time before the two leads meet, which gives us plenty of time to get to know the characters and their motivations. The filmmakers build tension expertly and craft a film that is ultimately very touching, in spite of its familiar ingredients. Excellent performances, and the cinematography contrasts the misery with scenic beauty.
2009-U.S.-Mexico. 96 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Amy Kaufman. Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Cinematography: Adriano Goldman. Cast: Paulina Gaitan (Sayra), Edgar Flores (Willy “El Casper”), Kristyan Ferrer (El Smiley), Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Diana García, Luis Fernando Peña.
Last word: “There was definitely a kind of studio and producer perspective, they wanted to be more threatening, the gangs. And I was always on the other side of making it less threatening. But you needed, yes, the threat. To heighten tension by the end of the story, you need them to be a scary element. And the weird thing was writing it I’d never really considered them a scary element, just consider them other people, because they live by a certain set of rules and that Casper had broken those rules.” (Fukunaga, About.com)