Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Maria Full Of Grace

With “Maria Full of Grace,” Joshua Marston shows us a completely intimate and personal side of the disturbing reality of human drug mules. His muse/mule is portrayed by Catalina Sandino Mareno, who certainly infuses the part full of grace. More than just a sobering ‘drug story,’ the film also follows the conventional tale of the commoner who dreams big and fights against odds to make it – albeit unconventionally.

Maria’s a young woman who feels like there should be more to her existence than what she has. Discontentment with her provincial life is immediately apparent in her interactions with her boyfriend, her family, and especially with her boss at work where she de-thorns roses. But it takes a not quite immaculate conception to finally give her reason to go to the big city looking for work and whatever else Maria thinks she might find in the world.

The stubborn yet admirable ambition that Maria possesses makes her decision to accept a job as a drug-mule feel real and unforced. Thankfully Marston avoids the usual melo-dramatic device of making decisions for his character. In a lesser script, the hapless maiden would be forced at gun point to swallow the 62 packets of latex-wrapped drugs. Here the choice is Maria’s and it’s a burden that she suffers with a paradoxical mix of reluctance and courage. It’s at once a dangerous and shameful decision for Maria to make – especially considering her unborn child, but it’s also an exciting trip to America and a lucrative opportunity to escape her pre-destined life of poverty in Colombia.

Maria shares more with her holy namesake than just the secret of an unborn child. She carries in her body her very salvation – or so she thinks. But from the time she steps on the plane to New York, her cargo causes her nothing but discomfort and danger. Upon arrival in the land of the free home of the brave, the reality and severity of her crime and the danger that she and her two companions are in becomes frighteningly evident. The resulting hasty escape into the vastness of New York City evokes a terrifying feeling of hopelessness in a foreign land as Maria’s dreams become the worst possible nightmare.

At every turn Martson succeeds in creating compelling opportunities for his character to make interesting choices, overcoming the odds and finding hope within.


Blogger Jordan said...

i wrote this review before i set up the blog. i watched the movie (great movie) the other night and wanted to try to write a "real" sounding review. thus the pseudo-intellectual tone. why do i feel like i must apologize for that?

9:03 AM  

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