Barlam is a timid, twentysomething grocery bagger lurching clumsily toward manhood in the dusty US-Mexico border town of El Paso, Texas. He's been feeling anxious recently… something about the humdrum of everyday life doesn't fit quite right. His addict sister Nati—equal parts charm and damage—clicks in too well with their borderline incestuous dynamic and gets caught up in Barlam's obsession with a Puerto Rican boy who looks just like him. Thing is, this boy might be the missing piece to their broken family history. Soon Barlam is descending into a seedy underworld where reality and fantasy entangle, masculinity and belonging are thrown into crisis, and flippant humor reveals disillusionment, desire, and rage. And there are some pretty imaginative narcotics, too….
Dripping with sexuality and exuberance in tongues that bounce between Spanish and English, The Sentimental Engine Slayer flickers hot and sweaty with the fluorescent colors of a distinctly Southwest American landscape. This extraterrestrial, semi-autobiographical tale told with boomerang fragmentation and psychedelic sound design gives the director/writer/star Omar Rodriguez Lopez away as the sonic force behind the Grammy-winning fusion rockers The Mars Volta. It also makes Rodriguez's directorial debut a piercingly clear pronouncement that a rare and riveting voice has emerged for independent American cinema.