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Maria Full of Grace (2004)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  2 April 2004 (Colombia)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 27,985 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 167 user | 154 critic | 39 from Metacritic.com

A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family.

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Title: Maria Full of Grace (2004)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 39 wins & 29 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
María Álvarez
Virgina Ariza ...
Juana
...
Rodrigo Sánchez Borhorquez ...
Supervisor
Charles Albert Patiño ...
Wilson Guerrero ...
Johanna Andrea Mora ...
Diana Álvarez
Fabricio Suarez ...
Pacho
Mateo Suarez ...
Pacho
Evangelina Morales ...
Juana Guarderas ...
Female Pharmacist
John Álex Toro ...
Franklin (as Jhon Alex Toro)
...
Javier (as Jaime Osorio Gomez)
...
Lucy Díaz
Victor Macias ...
Pellet Maker
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Storyline

In a small village in Colombia, the pregnant seventeen years old Maria supports her family with her salary working in a floriculture. She is fired and with a total lack of perspective of finding a new job, she decides to accept the offer to work as a drug mule, flying to USA with sixty-two pellets of cocaine in her stomach. Once in New York, things do not happen as planned. Written by Stephen Bowen

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

These pellets contain heroin. 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. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

|

Release Date:

2 April 2004 (Colombia)  »

Also Known As:

Maria Full of Grace  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£84,335 (UK) (25 March 2005)

Gross:

£232,674 (UK) (1 April 2005)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Catalina Sandino Moreno did not practice swallowing pellets during rehearsals. Since the character of Maria did not know how to swallow them, Moreno and Joshua Marston agreed that it would be more realistic for her to try swallowing them for the first time on-camera. The pellets were made of easily digestible substances but neither Moreno nor Marston will reveal what exactly they were made of. See more »

Goofs

After Maria gives Don Fernando the money for Lucy's family, she takes her wallet out twice. See more »

Quotes

María Álvarez: We have to get out of here.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Eating Out: All You Can Eat (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Yo No Quiero
Written and Performed by Asilo 38 feat. Manchild
Courtesy of Discosoye
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User Reviews

 
A riveting human odyssey that transcends simplistic messages
9 August 2004 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

In Joshua Marston's small budget film Maria Full of Grace, a headstrong Colombian girl of seventeen (Catalina Sandino Moreno), determined to escape from a country where the average annual income is about $1700 US, seizes an opportunity to earn $5000 by ingesting and transporting illegal drugs to New York at considerable risk to herself and her unborn child. Inspired by a woman in his Brooklyn neighborhood who told him her story of swallowing capsules of heroin and boarding a plane for the United States, first-time director Marston has escaped the clichés of social realist films to offer a riveting human odyssey that transcends simplistic messages of good and evil. Shot in documentary style with a hand-held camera in Ecuador and New York, the film's authenticity is greatly enhanced by its use of Colombian actors speaking in their native Spanish language.

Maria Alvarez along with her best friend Blanca (Yenny Paola Vega), works at a job stripping thorns from roses in a village near Bogota, Colombia. Despite low wages and deplorable working conditions, her pay provides support for her grandmother, mother, sister, and infant nephew to sustain their meager household. After she has words with her boss, she quits her job and soon discovers she is pregnant by a local boy Juan (Wilson Guerrero) whom she does not love and refuses to marry. Feeling trapped, she quickly accepts when Franklin (Jhon Alex Toro), a friend she recently met at a dance, offers her a huge sum of money to smuggle drugs into the U.S. The trick is that she must swallow up to 100 heroin pellets sealed with latex and dental floss, knowing that certain death follows if one of them bursts.

The lovely Ms. Moreno, in an Oscar-worthy debut performance, is no cardboard character but a fully developed human being who epitomizes the desperation of people who are willing to do almost anything to better their life. The tension is almost unbearable as we follow Maria's odyssey into danger. She soon meets drug kingpin Javier (Jaime Osorio Gomez), who explains the operation, and in secret, talks with Lucy (Guilied Lopez), who shares her experience in carrying drugs to America and allows her to practice by swallowing large grapes.

After barely escaping the probing of U.S. Customs Officers in New York, things begin to go wrong and Maria and Blanca must rely on their tremendous resolve to survive in a confusing and lonely environment. Winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance and two major awards at the Berlin Film Festival, Maria Full of Grace is not only a hard-hitting jab at a global economic system that allows exploitation of the poor to satisfy the pleasure of the rich, but a richly nuanced coming-of-age story that delivers its hard-edged message with understanding and compassion. One of the best films of the year.


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