I am not a big fan of Foreign Films because I'm intimidated by subtitles; afraid I won't get it. And I was not going to watch this one but some of my new-found film critic friends shamed me into it. Allegedly, a real film critic watches foreign films. Well, we all know that I'm not a real film critic; I just play one on the internet.
This movie was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it from start to finish. It is a very simple story of gang violence and young love but told in a loving, suspenseful manner.
El Casper is in love with Martha Marlene but keeps it a secret from his Honduran gang for fear of harm to his brash lover. Casper participates in a violent initiation of a young boy who the gang names El Smiley. The leader of the gang, Lil Mago, accidently kills Martha and casually tells Casper that he can get another girlfriend. Casper is devastated but cannot show his emotions in front of the gang.
Meanwhile, the audience is introduced to a Honduran family that is riding the train with other immigrants who are in search of the good life in the US. Casper in on the run from the gang and ends up on the train with the immigrants and becomes inadvertently involved with a beautiful naïve teenager named Sayra.
This is a low-budget movie that cooks. In spite of limited resources, Writer/Director Cary Fukunaga demonstrates that he has the skill to make a movie that communicates those elusive feelings of compassion, fear, desperation, violence, hope, and love. I watched this movie on a screener DVD and stayed up until 1:00 a.m., so it had to be a pretty darn good movie in order to keep me up that late. Rock 'n Roll.