Maria Full of Grace
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(Drama) Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino), a bright, spirited 17-year old, lives with three generations of her family in a cramped house in rural Colombia. Desperate to leave her job stripping thorns from flowers in a rose plantation, Maria accepts a lucrative offer to transport packets of heroin-which she must swallow-to the United States. The ruthless world of international drug trafficking proves to be more than Maria bargained for as she becomes ultimately entangled with both drug cartels and immigration officials. The dramatic thriller builds toward a conclusion so powerful and revealing it could only be based on a thousand true stories.]]>
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Maria is 17 and works in Colombia picking the thorns off of roses before they are shipped overseas. Although she is clearly a bright girl, Maria discovers that she is pregnant. To make things worse her boyfriend is a loser, her boss at work is a jerk, and her family needs her to provide money. So after Maria quits her job she is introduced to a man in Bogotá who will give her $5,000 for flying to New York City with 62 of those pellets in her stomach as a "mule" for a drug lord. For Maria that amount is a virtual fortune and seems worth the risk that one of those pellets could break in her stomach and kill her. So she practices swallow grapes so that she will be able to do what needs to be done to get her money.
There will be several mules on this particular flight, a practice known as "shotgunning" that Marston learned about and which inspired his original script. The idea is that if you put several mules on the same plane and plan on U.S. Customs catching one of them, which would make it easier for the rest of the drugs to get through.Read more ›
Remember the name Catalina Sandino Moreno. The heartfelt and harrowing performance she gives here has won her a heap of awards and I am sure there are many more to come. First-time director Joshua Marston, who also wrote the taut screenplay, shows Maria being taught how to swallow drugs wrapped in packets -- she sips soup to make them go down without gagging. If the drugs in her belly should seep out during Maria's turbulent jet flight to New York, she could be poisoned or arrested or both. Marston builds incredible tension. But it's the human drama etched on Moreno's young, weary face that gives Maria its potent punch.
This Winner of the Audience Award at Sundance is a terrific film; shocking, engrossing, and entertaining. But what makes Maria Full of Grace an extraordinary experience is its ability to be ordinary. We see everyday life here, plausible motives, convincing decisions, and characters who live at ground level. The movie's suspense is heightened by being generated entirely at the speed of life, and showing us what probably would happen, and not some implausible fairy-tale.
So the first thing that Marston must do is establish Maria's character in such a way that we can believe she would do something like this. She is, on the one hand, an ordinary 17-year-old Columbian girl who works stripping the thorns from the stems of roses in a factory. She lives at home with her mother, sister and her sister's baby. She has a boyfriend. She has to work to help support the family. On the other hand she is a headstrong person, a pretty girl with a head on her shoulders.
But Maria is not exactly desperate. She is a bit of a gambler, somewhat foolish, no doubt, but she is also a strong person with great personal integrity. Marston allows us to see in the beginning of the film that she will take chances that others won't. She climbs up onto the roof of a building, a climb her boyfriend is afraid to make. We see her tell her boss (more or less) to take this job and shove it when he won't let her go to the bathroom. And we realize shortly thereafter why she needs to go to the bathroom more often than usual. We watch her tell her boyfriend about her predicament, and she does it in such a way that we can tell that she is searching for how he really feels.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Subtitles but I knew that already, great movie, quick shipping from a great sellerPublished 6 months ago by Megan T.
VERY SLOW MOVIE. Interesting, but very slow. Not really recommended for an entire family to watch, but more for personal enrichment on issues in Colombia and South America in terms... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Baron Marsh
Serious, somewhat dark story that allows the reader a view into the way drugs are smuggled into US. And the human cost.Published 8 months ago by Mother Time
ha, ha - oh, NO! - see my review for The Standards Real Book, C Version"! I posted the film review under that book - in the wrong place. My apologies.Published 9 months ago by Lamar