Maria Full of Grace

| August 4, 2004

Maria Full of Grace is the story of a young woman’s journey from a small Colombian town to the streets of New York. Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) is a bright, spirited 17-year old who lives with three generations of her family in a cramped house in rural Colombia and works stripping thorns from flowers in a rose plantation. The offer of a lucrative job involving travel, but which turns out to in truth be that of a drug mule, changes the course of her life. Far from the uneventful trip she is promised, Maria is plunged into the high risk and ruthless world of international drug trafficking. Her mission becomes one of determination and survival and she finally emerges with the grace that will carry her forward into a new life
I found this movie to be a strained attempt to portray economical, physical and emotional conflict/decisions through the eyes of a solitary foreigner, Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno). The painful dichotomy of living a life of poverty in Columbia versus the financial escape of becoming a drug “mule” was not thoroughly executed. The objectification of Maria in order to transport drugs to New York failed because of the filmmaker’s weak perception of the international drug trafficking system.
What this movie was successful in achieving was an abysmal attempt in character development throughout, which unfortunately included that of lead character Maria. This movie had about as much depth as the drug contained, grape-shaped items she had to religiously swallow.
In a country that offers movie selections of “mock” documentaries, stalker girlfriends and Saturday Night Live retirees, it’s no wonder this film was winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. This film just reaffirms my feelings that this country is clearly lacking a national culture. Thank God for subtitled movies, whether they’re worth it or not.

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