Maria Full of Grace (2004) Review


Verdict: Intricate

Engaging story with great acting.

Review

Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) finds herself unable to tolerate working at a flower factory any longer. Franklin (John Alex Toro) offers her ride into the city and on the way he proposes a job opportunity to her- as a mule. She agrees and meets Lucy (Guilied Lopez) an experienced mule, who gives her advice. Blanca (Yenny Paola Vega) her best friend, follows in her footsteps much to Maria’s dismay. However once they land and wait for the drugs to pass through their systems, Lucy shows signs that one of the capsules have burst in her system. When Maria sees the two men who are waiting to collect the drugs carry Lucy’s body away in the middle of the night, she decides to run. Directed by Joshua Marston.

This film was well made with a good storyline, and acting, though it does seem like the reality of it is toned down a bit. For example the border officers who question Maria at the airport seem pretty comforting and not at all intimidating which I had the impression they would be. There are other instances as well, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

The acting is pretty great with Catalina Moreno doing her part of a young, innocent girl trying to make fast hard cash without really knowing the consequences. There is also good chemistry between her and Guilied Lopez. Lopez is not in many scenes, but makes herself pretty memorable. Patricia Rae who plays Lopez’s sister also does a great job.

I find it interesting that it is never really shown that Maria regrets her decision to be a mule even when she escapes from the two men. It could be because her character is resilient and stubborn, but I would have thought a breakdown would be included. Perhaps this film was made for more American audiences, and so individualistic personality traits are favoured. This can definitely be seen in Maria as she acts rebellious and is her own person from the beginning of the film. However, because she does not regret her decision of being a mule, it implies that carrying drugs in your body across borders is OK since it is a means to an end. Just a thought. This film does not really critique the drug industry, at least not that I can think of (apart from the chance that you might die a horrific death or be sent to prison). But because the film ended the way it did it makes me think that there isn’t a strong critique of being a drug mule/of the drug industry in general.

Overall a pretty engaging film that shows the intimate system of drug mules. It is interesting to note that two women in this film are pregnant, and pregnant women seem very common in crime films. I wonder why that is.

To sum-up:
PROS: Acting, chemistry, story
CONS: Realistic? 

I give this an 8/10.

Have you seen Maria full of Grace? Rate it out of 5 stars above or leave a comment below!

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