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
|Edited by||Anne McCabe
|Distributed by||Fine Line Features|
Maria Full of Grace (Spanish title: María, llena eres de gracia, lit. "Maria, you are full of grace") is a 2004 drama film written and directed by Joshua Marston. The film was produced between Colombia and the United States. 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 Maria 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, Maria discovers she is pregnant by her boyfriend, and he suggests marriage, but she declines because she does not feel she loves him, or that he loves her. 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 drugs and flies to New York City with her sister Blanca and her friend Lucy, who have also been recruited as drug mules.
Maria is almost caught by U.S. customs who are suspicious after finding Maria'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 tells them that the father of her child paid for her plane ticket. She avoids being X-rayed due to her pregnancy, and is released. The traffickers collect Maria, Blanca and Lucy, another more experienced mule that Maria had befriended during her recruitment. The mules are held in a motel room until they pass all the drug pellets. Lucy falls ill when a drug pellet apparently ruptures inside her. Unknown to the traffickers, Maria witnesses them carrying Lucy out of the hotel room, and she sees blood stains in the bathtub. She comes to the conclusion that the traffickers cut her open to retrieve the other drug pellets inside her body. Scared, Maria convinces Blanca to escape with her while the traffickers are gone. They leave with the drugs they have passed.
Maria 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 Maria make an agreement to return the drugs to the traffickers and receive their money. Maria uses some of her drug money to send Lucy's body home to Colombia for a proper burial. Maria and Blanca are ready to board the plane back to Colombia when Maria decides to stay in the United States, Blanca returns home without Maria
- Catalina Sandino Moreno as Maria 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.