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Maria Full of Grace

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Overview

New York-based writer/director Joshua Marston makes his feature film debut with the coming-of-age drama Maria Full of Grace, with a script developed at the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab. Catalina Sandino Moreno plays Maria Alvarez, a teenager living in Bogotá, Colombia. Along with most of the other able-bodied people in her community, she works a perilous job in a flower plantation. She wants to quit, but her large family depends on her meager salary. One day, Maria meets a smooth-talking young man named Franklin. ...
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Overview

New York-based writer/director Joshua Marston makes his feature film debut with the coming-of-age drama Maria Full of Grace, with a script developed at the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab. Catalina Sandino Moreno plays Maria Alvarez, a teenager living in Bogotá, Colombia. Along with most of the other able-bodied people in her community, she works a perilous job in a flower plantation. She wants to quit, but her large family depends on her meager salary. One day, Maria meets a smooth-talking young man named Franklin. He offers her a business proposition to make some money and travel. However, the task involves her acting as a drug mule and smuggling heroin into the U.S. Maria Full of Grace premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 as part of the dramatic competition.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; The original theatrical and international trailers; Audio commentary with writer/director Joshua Marston
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The film festival favorite Maria Full of Grace briefly played the art house circuit, but it figures to find its largest audience among discriminating DVD viewers. First-time director Joshua Marston doesn’t have an A-list personality playing his eponymous protagonist, but he doesn’t need one: Newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno is bright-eyed, beautiful, and charismatic in the role of a teenage Colombian who takes desperate chances to better both her own life and that of her unborn child. In her native land, Maria has a dead-end job and a loser boyfriend who accepts no responsibility for getting her pregnant. She agrees to become a “mule” for drug runners, swallowing dozens of tiny bags filled with cocaine just prior to flying to New York City, where members of the drug ring will shelter her until she expels the contraband. Airport customs investigators, we learn, generally suspect Colombians of smuggling drugs, but Maria is exempt from the usual X-ray investigation by virtue of her pregnancy. There is nothing especially unique or innovative about Maria’s narrative trajectory; indeed, most viewers will anticipate the plot developments before they occur. But Marston portrays the seedy milieu with near-documentary fidelity -- he neither overstates nor romanticizes the poverty that drives Maria to run the risk of spending her life in prison. Moreover, he presents the drug trade as a routine business operation, albeit one with occasionally deadly consequences. Supporting player Orlando Tobon even elicits a dollop of sympathy as an avuncular pusher who takes the mules under his wing when they arrive in New York. Yenny Vega is convincing as Maria’s loyal but dull-witted friend Blanca, although her real function is to make Moreno’s character look brighter. As for Moreno, her future couldn’t look better, as her performance here is among 2004’s very best.
All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Joshua Marston's dramatically potent Maria Full of Grace could easily have been a preachy issue film, but the filmmaker's eye and ear for authentic detail and believable characterization, the exquisite lead performance of Catalina Sandina Moreno (in her film debut), and the typically crisp, immediate handheld camerawork of genius cinematographer Jim Denault (Boys Don't Cry) make the film an unusually tough and gritty slice of underworld life. The horrific situation in which Maria finds herself stems organically from her steely temperament and her desperate, unfulfilled circumstances. Moreno's assured performance conveys both Maria's tough willfulness and her underlying uncertainty. Marston's film is at its strongest in focusing on the small, fascinating details of Maria's life, as she gives up demeaning sweatshop labor at a rose plantation to enter the drug trade. The scenes of heroin being processed and ingested for transport by Maria in her newfound occupation are darkly fascinating, as are the excruciatingly tense scenes that follow on the airplane, and at the airport after Maria arrives in New York. Some elements of the coming-of-age story are familiar, but Marston's attention to detail and the film's effective naturalistic presentation make it all very fresh and gripping.
Entertainment Weekly - Lisa Schwarzbaum
Unfolds with a simplicity that's as breathtaking as its inevitability is harrowing.
New York Times
Sustains a documentary authenticity that is as astonishing as it is offhand. Even when you're on the edge of your seat, it never sacrifices a calm, clear-sighted humanity for the sake of melodrama or cheap moralizing. Steven Holden
Washington Post - Desson Thomson
A story that rips fleshy holes through your heart.

Unfolds with a simplicity that's as breathtaking as its inevitability is harrowing.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/7/2004
  • UPC: 026359192722
  • Original Release: 2003
  • Rating:

  • Source: Hbo Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Subtitled / Dubbed
  • Sound: Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound
  • Time: 1:41:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 26,071

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Catalina Sandino Moreno Maria Alvarez
Yenny Paola Vega Blanca
Guilied Lopez Lucy
John Alex Toro Franklin
Patricia Rae Carla
Wilson Guerrero Juan
Jaime Osorio Gomez Javier
Johanna Andrea Mora Diana
Orlando Tobon Don Fernando
Fernando Velasquez Pablo
Virgina Ariza Juana
Rodrigo Sanchez Borhorquez Supervisor
Charles Albert Patino Felipe
Evangelina Morales Rosita
Fabricio Suarez Pacho
Mateo Suarez Pacho
Juana Guarderas Female Pharmacist
Victor Macias Pellet Maker
Hugo Ferro Pharmacist
Ana Maria Acosta Stewardess
Ada Vergara De Solano Carolina
Maria Consuelo Perez Constanza
Eddie Trucco Customs Inspector
Selenis Leyva Customs Inspector
Juan Porras Hincapie Wilson
Oscar Bejarano Carlos
Singkhan Bandit Gas Attendant
Patrick Rameau Taxi Driver
Monique Curnen Receptionist
Lourdes Martin Doctor
Osvaldo Plasencia Enrique
Technical Credits
Joshua Marston Director, Screenwriter
Sarah Beers Costumes/Costume Designer
Yann Blanc Art Director
Debbie De Villa Production Designer
Jim Denault Cinematographer
Lynn Fainchtein Musical Direction/Supervision
Carrie Fix Asst. Director
Jaime Osorio Gomez Co-producer
Rodrigo Guerrero Associate Producer
Leonardo Heiblum Score Composer
Jacobo Lieberman Score Composer
Ellyn Long Marshall Casting
Monica Marulanda Production Designer
Anne McCabe Editor
Paul S. Mezey Producer
Marie E. Nelson Casting
Lee Percy Editor
Lauren Press Costumes/Costume Designer
El Barco Producciones Casting
Maria Eugenia Salazar Casting
Orlando Tobon Associate Producer
Jorge Valencia Casting
Alex Wolfe Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Maria and Blanca [6:01]
2. Looking for Something More [8:25]
3. With Child [8:58]
4. A New Mule [5:49]
5. Nervous Determination [5:56]
6. Preparing [3:53]
7. 62 Pellets [6:46]
8. Stay Calm [6:58]
9. The Interrogation [4:40]
10. Wake Up [2:07]
11. Only for a Few Days [8:01]
12. Faith in Fernando [8:10]
13. Lucy Is Found [7:05]
14. Mourning the Loss [6:41]
15. Full of Grace [5:09]
16. End Credits [2:19]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Chapters
   Special Features
      Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Joshua Marston
      Original Theatrical Trailer
      International Trailer
   Languages
      Audio
         Spanish 5.1
         Spanish 2.0
      Subtitles
         English
         French
         Spanish
         Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Five Stars make Ten Stars

    A reviewer, A reviewer, February 19, 2005 wrote a desperate attempt to downplay a movie that requires an open mind to review. “María, llena eres de gracia” is probably -after "Like water for chocolate"- one of the most accomplished Hispanic productions of modern film art. The length of time where the camera stood on faces seeks to show the viewer that women have a personality and that they are not a mere sex object. You suppose to read her facial expressions, her soul, sufferings, sorrows and social agonies. It takes an analytical mind to see that. I’ll bet any thing that you won’t enjoy “Once upon the Time in the West.” We’re accustomed to our American productions where Julia Roberts plays the sexiest and the hero is always a guy, Segal fights several guys without even a sweat, Clint takes over the French headquarters in Mexico assisted by his second in line Sarah the hooker/nun or even Rusell to bring the president out of New York. Well, those are fictions “Mary full of Grace” is a film about reality, about real people. If you cannot see the beauty in that, I'll agree that you’ve just wasted two hours out of your precious lifetime. Then I have to say: movies about real people are not for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Can't Get Much Better Than This.

    I really don't have much to add to what has already been said about this film, other than it is the most harrowing, uncompromising yet painfully quiet drama on the Colombian drug trade I've ever seen. This is an extraordinarily powerful work of art. It should make those of us who are not poor and desperate thankful that we do not face the horrific choices that confront Maria and her fellow 'mules.' Highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Cultural and Performance Review

    The film is a true and accurate representation of real life in poverty of Colombia's lower-income class. The reality of females' lack of opportunity and their only way of survival: manual labor of homemaker. At the general landscape, the movie shows the heart of Colombia's cultural layout with its music, dance, and love. Maria is an average teen whose age will allow her to adapt to her new life in The U.S. It shows that been a mule for one time does not render her unfit for our society. It was just the only price she could pay to see her baby grow up in a more perfect society. Her performance is remarkable. Especially when we see her determination to remain in the U.S, when walking toward her new chosen future, she gradually transforms from the humble and unsophisticated Latin-American walk to a more Americanized-walking demeanor. Shaking her smooth black hair away from her face remained us of those sophisticated models that show us the latest in fashion. I will recommend the film and love to own a DVD to share it in Cuba when I visit my family next year.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A thought provoking movie!

    I absolutely love foreign and independent because most of the movies out there such as Duplex and Me Myself and Irene are garbage movies. I want a movie to make me think and feel to walk away in awe. This is one of those films. You simply seem the struggles these women and the financial struggles the country was going through, it makes you not want to complain 'how bad American is'.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews