Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
|Featuring:||Catalina Sandino Moreno, Yenny Paola Vega, Guilied Lopez, Patricia Rae, Orlando Tobon|
|Producer:||Paul Mezey, Paul S. Mezey|
|Distributor:||Fine Line Features
Production Company: HBO Films
“These pellets contain heroine. Each weighs 10 grams. Each is 4.2 cm long and 1.4 cm wide. And they’re on their way to New York in the stomach of a 17-year-old girl.”
This Spanish-language film is being shown in the U.S. with English sub-titles.
“Maria Full of Grace” is a stunning, gritty slice of life film from first-time director Joshua Marston. It tells the story of Maria, played beautifully real by Catalina Sandino Moreno, a 17 year old girl from Columbia who just wants something different in life, no matter the cost.
She works at a rose plantation, dethorning her quota each and every day. The money she receives goes to support her sister and mom, both of whom are unemployed. Her sister is a single mom, and anytime the child gets sick, Maria is forced to foot the bill. She is in a relationship with a man who is clearly bad to her. She doesn’t love him, and he doesn’t love her. She tells him she is pregnant. He suggests they get married, but she shrugs it off, wanting something else. She meets a man at a dance who seems to have a way out of her dull, monotonous life, and promises good money in a very secretive business. He wants Maria to be a drug mule, carrying drugs in her stomach into the United States.
She accepts, and the rest off the film follows the harrowing process of getting the tablets of heroin into her stomach, carrying them across the border, and having them ready for the dealers in New York City. Maria doesn’t seem to have much of a conscience about it; she just wants something new in life. The entire film is an exercise in depression for the audience. We hate to see the life she has, and hate to see the way she chooses to get out of it. The film displays people who are lost, and will turn to anything for hope.
As Christians, we know that the only hope is Christ, which makes films like this painful. Although this is a fictional film, this stuff happens every day, and the reality of all these people risking their lives for nothing is quite sad.
The film is not good for children and young teens to see. It may be acceptable for very mature older teens as a lesson in how Jesus is the only way out. The film contains some profanity, not a lot, but enough—although they are in Spanish subtitles, which may make a difference to some. The main issue with “Maria Full of Grace” is the mature subject material involved. Drugs are not shown being used, but the story is completely about drug smuggling. So parents should use their discernment in deciding if this film is acceptable for their older teens.
I give “Maria Full of Grace” an “A” for its realistic and engaging handling of this troubling subject.