Maria Full of Grace
Maria Full of Grace is not your average drug movie. It’s not exploitative, it’s not overloaded with violence or sex. It’s unsettling in it’s quiet and realistic portrayal of those that have opted (or been forced) into the Colombian drug trade.
This story comes to us from writer/director Joshua Marston who has an extremely small oeuvre. But you wouldn’t guess it judging by his deftness behind the camera. He managed to put a human face (and a beautiful one at that) on the drug trade, to somehow make it understandable, relatable. The story is gritty, raw, and difficult to watch not because it’s not beautiful and moving, but because…well, watching poverty drive nice people to swallow balloons of heroine is never easy to watch.
The story follows María Álvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno), a seventeen year old Columbian girl working on a flower plantation for meager wages that only go to support your sister’s, bastard child who has fallen ill. Being secretly pregnant herself, María can’t handle the poor treatment she receive at the plantation, and quits. While searching for another job, she meets Franklin, a mysteriously handsome man, Franklin (John Alex Toro)with a leather jacket and motorcycle. He tells her he can get her a job as a mule, and she decides to do it. The rest of the film focuses on the consequences of that decision.
Moreno will knock you off your feet. Her face, more than her words tells the story of this innocent girl who gets caught up in things she shouldn’t. No matter what she does, you’ll believe her, and that’s why this film is so moving. Rightly so, she received an Oscar nomination in 2004 for this performance. Additionally, Marston deserves the credit for creating this gritty masterpiece.