I remember watching this film a few years back and thinking that the amount of detail that was in the script and filmmaking was almost breathtaking. You can very easily think that this film is a documentary.
I was very surprised to hear that this was the directors (Cary Fukunaga) first feature. I wasn’t surprised that the man had spent 2 years of his life travelling with illegal immigrants and documenting everything so he could make this film. I also read recently that he actually used two gang members from a city in Guatemala to help make the slang as realistic and as up to date as possible (imdb).
The story follows a young street smart kid who is on brink of being a hardcore gang member, when one of the older gang members tries to rape his girlfriend and kills her accidentally. He flees his life in Guatemala in the hope of starting a new one in the United States.
This film is shockingly brutal in certain scenes but apart from those scenes, the film plays out like more of a documentary/drama type film. This is jaw dropping, edge of your seat cinema. a
A near perfect film and a phenomenal first feature.