Maria Full of Grace (2004)
Review Date: December 24, 2004
Director: Josh Marston
Writer: Josh Marston
Producers: Paul Mezey
Catalina Sandino Moreno as Maria
Yenny Paola Vegas as Blanca
Guilied Lopez as Lucy
A pretty young girl attempting to get by in Columbia, loses her job and must find another way to score some bucks for her family, as well as her own upcoming new family member. She chooses to become a “drug mule”, swallows a whole bunch of narcotic pellets, gets on a plane to New York and hopes for the best. What follows is an engrossing motion picture.
I know what you’re thinking: if you’ve seen one “poor pregnant Columbian girl who loses her job and decides to swallow drug pellets in her stomach and mule them to New York for a local drug dealer” movie, you’ve seen them all, but trust me…this one is different! What this film represents is yet another very interesting “slice of life”, one of my favorite types of movie. Being as my own life isn’t all that engaging or well-rounded (other than the hookers, coke parties and celebrity phone calls…that I dream about), I’m always fascinated by films that provide insight into a part of life that I would likely, otherwise, never have known much about. The Latin angle in this film certainly reminded me of CITY OF GOD, which was another such movie that blew my testies off last year, but this one is much smaller in scale, yet similarly emotional, educational and genuinely nerve-wracking. I never thought that a woman entering a bathroom inside an airplane would have me biting my fingernails as much as one particular scene in this flick did, but yowsa…that was a close one! The film’s lead actress, Catalina Sandino Moreno (no relation to our own very slick Johnny Moreno), is its linchpin with an all-out engrossing performance which sees her in almost every single scene of the movie. Not only is this woman “easy on the eyes”, but she’s also especially effective in communicating much of the film’s deeper un-verbalized emotions, all of which she is able to convey with her eyes, body language and acting chops. I’m a fan.
Other than offering an engaging look into the lives of certain women who are forced to take upon this horrible practice of “muling drugs”, the film also provides insight into the greater, more universal, themes of life, including family, health, freedom and parenting. Oddly enough, it’s also one of the few movies that I’ve seen this year that I actually wanted to last longer. Despite running an hour and forty minutes, I wanted to spend more time with this lady and her unorthodox situation. In fact, sign me up for the sequel: MARIA: LOADED ON SMACK AND LOVING IT! or something a little less crude, but effective. Honestly though, all jokes aside, if you’re the type of person who enjoys watching movies based around a solid character who develops over time, a themed picture that deals with a topic that you don’t know much about or are simply intrigued by the entire premise of this very true story of life, rent this movie and watch it with anyone around you, who you believe to be spoiled to our way of life. Yes, life really does suck for millions of other people around the world and it’s important to be reminded of that every now and again. Oh, and if you dig on the empowerment of woman, the lead chick in this film is someone who can, ultimately, be greatly admired. I dug her a lot.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian