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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

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.