Maria Full Of Grace

"OK"

Maria Full Of Grace Review


At the 2003 Venice Film Festival, Charlize Theron's emotionally muscular serial-killer turn in "Monster" shared Best Actress honors with another powerful, but lower-key, performance by newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno in "Maria Full of Grace," playing a poor, pregnant Columbian teenager who becomes a drug mule more out of obstinate ambition than resigned desperation.

"Monster" went on to win Theron an Oscar. Now "Maria," which also won awards at Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival, is finally getting a chance to cast its traumatic spell in a theatrical run.

A straightforward story that pulls no punches about the dangers of the drug trade but at the same time paints few characters as out-and-out villains, this frank creation of first-time writer-director Joshua Marston begins with headstrong Maria marching out of an abusive job at a rose nursery -- the one reliable employer in her moldering home town in the Columbian mountains -- and heading to Bogota to find work as a maid.

But she's soon seduced by the allure of making hundreds of U.S. dollars by simply swallowing condoms packed with cocaine and taking a plane (something exciting she's never done) to New York City (somewhere exotic she's never been). Of course, the "simply" isn't as simple as it seems.

With a low-budget-blessed intimacy created in part with handheld photography, Marston depicts the perils of the mule's process, from the sweetly veiled threats of the grandfatherly smuggler who fills Maria's stomach with 60-plus hard-packed pellets of pure coke, to the revolting notion of washing and re-swallowing any lethal-if-broken pellets that make an early intestinal exit, and on to the finer points of U.S. Customs interrogations.

But while Moreno's portrayal of pride, trepidation and chutzpah prove spellbinding throughout the film, the character of Maria becomes harder and harder to sympathize with as she starts making stupid mistakes -- like losing both the address of the dilapidated hotel where she's to meet the New York drug dealers and the emergency number she's to call if something goes wrong.

Her poor judgment gets only worse when those dealers become treacherous, and fearing for her life, Maria drags a fellow mule -- her petulant puppy of a best friend from home who foolishly decided to follow in Maria's footsteps -- out onto the streets of New York, with the cocaine, leaving them homeless and hunted.

It never seems to cross Maria's mind that her family is under threat if she disappears, and at first she makes little effort to resolve her predicament, behaving as if she can just make a new life for herself in America. But while this incongruity weighs on the film's veracity and diminishes empathy for its heroine, Moreno never seems disingenuous or lost in the character's faults. Even when Maria seems stupid, she seems real in a very potent way.



Maria Full Of Grace

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd April 2004

Box Office USA: $6.5M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: Fine Line Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 135 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as María Álvarez, as Lucy Díaz, as Blanca, as Franklin, Virgina Ariza as Juana, Rodrigo Sánchez Borhorquez as Supervisor, Charles Albert Patiño as Felipe, Wilson Guerrero as Juan, Johanna Andrea Mora as Diana Álvarez, Evangelina Morales as Rosita, Jaime Osorio Gómez as Javier, Victor Macias as Pellet Maker, Hugo Ferro as Pharmacist, Ana Maria Acosta as Stewardess, as Carla

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.