Maria Full of Grace
|Maria Full of Grace|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joshua Marston|
|Produced by||Paul S. Mezey|
|Written by||Joshua Marston|
|Starring||Catalina Sandino Moreno
Yenny Paola Vega
John Álex Toro
|Music by||Leonardo Heiblum
|Editing by||Anne McCabe
|Distributed by||Fine Line Features|
|Running time||101 minutes|
Maria Full of Grace (Spanish title: María llena eres de gracia, lit. "Maria, you are full of grace") is a 2004 joint film production between Colombia and the U.S. written and directed by Joshua Marston, who went on to win the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. Lead actress Catalina Sandino Moreno was named Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in the 77th Academy Awards.
Seventeen-year-old Colombian girl María Álvarez works in sweat shop-like conditions at a flower plantation. Her income helps support her family, including an unemployed sister who is a single mother, but after unjust treatment from her boss, she quits her job de-thorning roses despite her family's vehement disapproval. Shortly thereafter, María discovers she is pregnant by her boyfriend, and he proposes to her, but she declines because she does not feel she loves him. On her way to Bogotá to find a new job, she is offered a position as a drug mule. Desperate, she accepts the risky offer, and swallows 62 wrapped pellets of heroin and flies to New York City with her friend Blanca, who has also been recruited as a drug mule.
María is almost caught by U.S. customs who are suspicious after finding María's $800 in cash and wanting to make a surprise visit to a sister she "hasn't seen in years," but not knowing anywhere else to go if she isn't home. She avoids being X-rayed due to her pregnancy, and they ultimately believe the story that the father of her child paid for her plane ticket. The traffickers collect María, Blanca and Lucy, another more experienced mule that Maria had befriended during her recruitment. The mules are held hostage in a motel room until they pass all the drug pellets. Lucy falls ill when a drug pellet apparently ruptures inside her. María witnesses the traffickers carrying Lucy out of the hotel room and sees a blood-stained bathtub, coming to the conclusion that the traffickers cut her open to retrieve the other drug pellets inside her body. Scared, María convinces Blanca to escape with her when the traffickers leave to dump Lucy's body. They abscond with the drugs they have passed.
María has nowhere to sleep and goes to Lucy's sister's house but doesn't reveal to the sister that Lucy is dead. Blanca soon joins her there. Eventually the sister unexpectedly hears of their involvement in her sister's death and throws them out. Blanca and María make an agreement to return the drugs to the traffickers and receive their money. María uses some of her drug money to send Lucy's body home to Colombia for a proper burial. María and Blanca are ready to board the plane back to Colombia when María decides to stay in the United States, Blanca returns home alone.
- Catalina Sandino Moreno as María Álvarez
- John Álex Toro as Franklin
- Johanna Andrea Mora as Diana Álvarez
- Virginia Ariza as Juana
- Yenny Paola Vega as Blanca
- Guilied Lopez as Lucy Díaz
- Patricia Rae as Carla
- Rodrigo Sánchez Borhorquez as the supervisor
- Charles Albert Patiño as Felipe
- Wilson Guerrero as Juan
- Fabricio Suarez, Mateo Suarez as Pacho
- Evangelina Morales as Rosita
- Juana Guarderas as a pharmacist
- Jaime Osorio Gómez as Javier
- Victor Macias as Pellet maker
The film was critically acclaimed amongst critics garnering a 97% approval rating on the aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Its total worldwide gross stands at $12,594,630 ($6,529,624 at the American box office and $6,065,006 from other territories). Sandino was praised for her performance and received multiple nominations for best leading actress including at the Academy Awards as well as the Screen Actors Guild Awards.