7.5/10
32,533
176 user 157 critic

Maria Full of Grace (2004)

R | | Crime, Drama | 6 August 2004 (USA)
A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family.

Director:

Joshua Marston

Writer:

Joshua Marston

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 41 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Catalina Sandino Moreno ... María Álvarez
Virgina Ariza Virgina Ariza ... Juana
Yenny Paola Vega ... Blanca
Rodrigo Sánchez Borhorquez Rodrigo Sánchez Borhorquez ... Supervisor (as Rodrigo Sanchez Borhorquez)
Charles Albert Patiño Charles Albert Patiño ... Felipe
Wilson Guerrero Wilson Guerrero ... Juan
Johanna Andrea Mora Johanna Andrea Mora ... Diana Álvarez
Fabricio Suarez Fabricio Suarez ... Pacho
Mateo Suarez Mateo Suarez ... Pacho
Evangelina Morales Evangelina Morales ... Rosita
Juana Guarderas Juana Guarderas ... Female Pharmacist
Jhon Álex Toro Jhon Álex Toro ... Franklin (as Jhon Alex Toro)
Jaime Osorio Gómez ... Javier (as Jaime Osorio Gomez)
Guilied Lopez ... Lucy Díaz
Victor Macias Victor Macias ... Pellet Maker
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Storyline

María Álvarez, an independent, feisty, and underpaid seventeen-year-old Colombian rose packager is stuck in a tedious life and a dead-end relationship with her good-for-nothing boyfriend, Juan. And as if things weren't bad enough, an unexpected pregnancy and an ugly altercation with her unfair boss will tempt María to accept the risky offer to become a drug mule, smuggling drugs from Bogotá to New York City. But, as things rapidly spiral out of control, suddenly, the option of an early retirement and a peaceful future for both María and her unborn baby begins to fade away. Is there a way out from this hopeless predicament? Written by Nick Riganas

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Colombia | Ecuador | USA

Language:

Spanish | English

Release Date:

6 August 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Maria Full of Grace See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$139,066, 18 July 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$6,517,198, 7 November 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

Juan: [Maria's pregnant] Well, I'll marry you.
María Álvarez: And how long before you start seeing someone else?
See more »

Connections

Featured in 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Acaso No Me Crees
Written by Aurelio Nu?ez
Performed by Patricia Teheran y Su Diosas
Courtesy of Codiscos
See more »

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User Reviews

 
From a life that's hard to swallow, to drugs that are hard to swallow.
14 December 2004 | by tomkidding-dot-comSee all my reviews

I really liked this movie a lot. It's refreshing to come across a compelling human drama that is told in such an incredibly honest and unexaggerated fashion that it ends up feeling wonderfully real and completely believable. The rather straightforward story only makes the movie feel more convincing - not at all contrived.

Maria Alvarez, played by previous unknown Catalina Sandino Moreno, is a seventeen year old who falls into the sticky-sweet trap of seeking a quick escape from the drudgery and hopelessness of her mundane existence. She turns to drugs. Not using them, though - smuggling them. Working as a drug mule offers her the chance at easy money. But, like most young people, she dives into it headlong - without fully realizing the risks and possible consequences. In fact, this movie really is all about young people stumbling over their own poor judgements (yes, it can be painful to watch at times).

Given all the hype that surrounded this movie when it was released, I found it to be not quite as harrowing as I had expected. Perhaps I'm just too jaded and desensitized. In truth, there were moments where I felt genuinely afraid for Maria. Mostly, though, there was just a real sense of the despair and desperation that fills the lives of these young Colombians. Perhaps this movie will, after all, not be the centerpiece of the Colombia Tourism Board's upcoming marketing and public relations campaign.

In the spirit of keeping it genuine (aka believable), all the acting in this movie is right on the mark - all the actors deliver. Of course, Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria) is so graced with natural beauty and she projects such a gentle and humble manner that one can't really help but feel empathy for her character. In fact, if there is anything to find fault with in the casting of her as Maria, it's that you're left wondering why her boyfriend would be such a God-damned idiot as to pass her up. If he had even an ant's worth of common sense, he would be madly in love with her. Not? So, that's the one element that doesn't gel so well.

The moody and melancholic music throughout this film - with plenty of beautiful acoustic guitar playing - supports the emotional content of the movie perfectly. Thankfully, it doesn't overtly bang you on the head with "feel sad here", and "feel scared here", and "feel relieved here". It sinks back a bit to find its harmony with the other elements. Nice.

The cinematography is beautiful in its simplicity and its understated manner. The word "modest" - in its best sense - serves well in describing this movie. Overall, it's just not as heavily stylized as other the-perils-of-getting-involved-with-drugs type movies - such as "Requiem For a Dream", "Traffic", "Blow", and "City of God", to name but a few - and with little of the annoying moralizing that tends to poison movies of this "genre".

In conclusion, most of us have already learned in life that one shouldn't be an ass. What this movie teaches us is that it's also not a good idea to be a mule.


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