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Holy overhyped movie. There is nothing really wrong with it, but there is no real reason to like it either. It could have been so much better. I am also not a fan of the way it just suddenly ends. I don't feel any emotional attachment to any of the characters and the movie wasn't really that compelling. It was a story about a girl who takes drugs over the border. "Blah."
Beautiful film
After Attack of the Clones came out there was some talk about the future of cinema being digital. Some speculated that in only a matter of years all films would be fillmed on High Def or DV, and that celluloid would be rendered obsolete.

I have to disagree. It's not the proliferation of digital that alarms me; it's the number of directors working without a tripod. Can anyone else think of a year that featured as many films shot with a jittery, handheld camera? Open Water, Friday Night Lights, Mean Creek, the list goes on and on. In fact, I would dare say that HALF of the films I saw this year were shot in the handheld style. It works for many of these films, surprisingly, but it got on my nerves in The Bourne Supremecy, and I'm quickly growing tired of this headache-inducing method.

I don't mean for that minor tirade in any way to detract from my opinion of Maria Full of Grace, a film that employed the aforementioned style, but didn't suffer any of the weakness of the format.

Maria (the unbelievably pretty Catalina Sandino Moreno) is stuck working in a factory in Columbia, dethorning roses. Her selfish sister has recently had a baby out of wedlock and expects Maria to provide when her child grows ill. The implication is that if any member of the family has a financial problem (recent unemployment, a bastard child) the rest of the group helps out. But Maria doesn't have any financial problems; she doesn't need any help. And she resents the fact that her work and wages go to a demanding sister who made bad choices.

Maria loses her job at the factory after vomiting all over some roses and subsequently finds out she's pregnant. Her boyfriend is a deadbeat, a kid really, more about getting drunk than being a father. While looking for work in Bogota she is approached by an acquaintance who offers her a job: running heroin to the Unites States as a mule. What follows is an entirely engrossing journey that is at times agonizingly suspenseful, grimly fascinating, and eventually hopeful.

In a scene reminiscent of the opening of Midnight Express, Maria is singled out for a search once she lands in New York. She has 62 thumb sized pellets of heroin in her stomach and she doesn't speak English. It is agonizing to watch her try to answer questions posed by the Customs Officials; she is obviously unprepared. Who are you staying with here in the States? Did you buy this plane ticket? How much did it cost? Maria, a smart girl who's in way, way over her head, does her absolute best to think herself through the situation.

And don't even get me started on the scene in which Maria consumes the pellets, after taking pills to slow her digestion and having her throat sprayed with antiseptic. Wow. Talk about enthralling. I found myself wondering if I could do it, and how many pellets I could hold down. And what are they dipping the pellets in before they give them to Maria? If someone knows, write and let me know.

Moreno, nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, is unbelievable attractive and endearing. She has a gorgeous smile, but you'll have to hit the "slow" on your remote because she only smiles about four times during the entire movie. I have to say, however, that as good as Moreno is, she isn't what holds the film together. It's so tightly written and constructed, another actress could have easily pulled it off. But Moreno is great.

The film isn't the downer you would think; it ends on a very redemptive note. I suspected that the subtitles on the DVD didn't entirely match the words spoken, but I no habla Espanol, so I'm not really sure. I found myself wishing I spoke Spanish so I could grasp some of the nuance that I knew I was missing, so I'm sure a Spanish-speaker would find this film even more rewarding than I did, and I loved it. One of the year's best.
I think its athentically good for a foreign film that uses other language to absorb you crucially, and makes you part of their own little world they artisticly developed. It is never dull nor a drag. Every scene seems to be essential in creating a peculiar but an intelligent picture of vivid characters and life itself as well.
Starring: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Yenny Paola Vega, Virgina Ariza, Johanna Andrea Mora, Guilied Lopez, and Patricia Rae.
Written and Directed by Joahua Marston.
Rated R (for drug content and language).
Running time approximately 1 hour 41 minutes.

Josh Marston's Maria Full of Grace is a spectacular motion picture experience. The screenplay is wonderful, and the performances dazzling (especially from Catalina Sandino Moreno, who's now up for the Best Actress Oscar), and the film's subject is one of the most realistic and engrossing stories I've ever seen on screen. This is a film that should be up for Best Foreign Film, but for some odd reason isn't. I can only wonder why. **** (out of ****) A
When I first saw/heard of the movie, I thought it was probably had something to do with religion which kind of turned me off of it... then I heard it had subtitles and forget it! BUT then I finally saw a preview and put it on my list to rent. I just watched it tonight. Great movie. This is one that completely takes you into the movie. Through Maria you experience what it must be like to realize your destiny if you stay where you are - in a country not offering many opportunities, wanting better for yourself, for your children. I love movies that show a real perspective, one that I dont see everyday. Here you got to see the US through Maria's eyes...what it meant to her. It was done in a way Ive never seen in any movie. Knowing what she went through getting here, even though it wasnt her intention from the beginning to stay. When she was in made me wonder about the other stories - similar to Maria's. Others who Don Fernando had helped - people just wanting more opportunity than what they had - doing whatever it takes.
Is this not a foreign film? I guess not because I figure it would certainly have been nominated for an Oscar or something.

It was interesting and well acted. I loved the "feel" of the movie too.
I think I'm going to give up wirting reviews for every film I watch. I just don't have the time anymore. I'll post reviews for films I feel need to be reviewed. Anyways, I've gotta catch up.

Spellbound (Hitchcock 45)

Rating: 7.0/10
Maria Full of Grace: C+

Much like 2003's Lilya-4-Ever, a dark side of society is shoved in our face and the underground cult acts as a devourer of young teenage girls who seek a better life and act fooshily in desperation. Call me a cynical bastard, but both Lilya and Maria couldn't nudge out a single sympathetic feeling out of my cold dead heart. The 97% tomatometer was quite a shock to me especially due to the controversial topic, yet after viewing it's a no brainer why critics swallowed this film down (pun intended) because it takes a rather safe path in exposing such a dangerous procedure. Maria is a very well composed character and she is easy to get behind during her journey, but development wise, she's rather flat and well.... just "there". Don't get me started on her overweight friend who practically makes every scene she is in cringe worthy. A total waste of a plot device, and a very amauterish move by the director. The first half of the film was rather good, with an excellent build up and a series of tense moments properly executed in the way a real mule is handled. Though, the overdramatic conclusion ends on a sour note with many questions circling in my head with no sense of any answers coming out.
Why You Should See This Film:

Catalina Sandino Moreno has been nominated for the Oscar for best actress, probably deservedly so. She is impressive in the role and convincing as a woman unsure of herself and the decisions she is making. My problem with her being the best actress of last year is the subtitles that are difficult to see through to find the acting performance. The film is shocking in terms of content and what women in Columbia are tempted with in order to survive. The story is well presented and entertaining as you watch to see the outcome of the horrible situation.

Why You Shouldn't See This Film:

The content of the story is very mature and definitely not fit for children or those offended easily by drug use and the poor treatment of women.


Maria Full of Grace is a powerful film about the horrible temptation presented to young women in Columbia that is bolstered by good acting and an interesting story.
:fresh: maria full of grace :fresh:
maria full of grace i have been dying to see this movie for sometime now ,so now i got to see it and i enjoyed every minutne of it ,the story was just compelling and it flew bye so fast it didnt feel like a almost 2 hour movie ,i loved everything about this movie even the subtitles i didnt mind at all ,see this movie --9

don't fill up on that grace.

it's also another movie that probably lost something in translation. I don't know very much spanish at all, but I know that at in least 3 different places the subtitles did not reflect what I had just heard.
For a movie about drug muling, Maria Full of Grace was disappointingly bland and reminded me quite a bit of HBO's "Lifestories: Families in Crisis" (after-school specials which aired in the early nineties) in that the most graphic moments of each were merely alluded to or shown in a blur just off camera.

Maybe I'm terrible, but I want my drug mule dramas full of murderous, menacing drug dealers (not two-bit half-pints with cornrows). I want to see the blood and the shit and the sweat rolling off of the mules' foreheads as they're poked, prodded and probed by men who are enjoying it just a little too much.

Maybe I am terrible, but I want to be disturbed by a film about a subject so disturbing.

This is the story of Maria Alvarez who is a poor Colombian girl who has to support her family. Well after she quits her job at the flower plantation she finds a new line of work. She decides to be a drug mule. All she has to do is transfer drugs to New York. Yeah it's not as easy as it sounds. However, I'm sure you already knew that!
Catalina Sandino Moreno does a wonderful job as Maria. I can see why she was nominated by the academy. I haven't seen many of the other actresses in this category so I can't really pick my favorite. The rest of the supporting cast was also good. There wasn't really anything extrodinary about the directing but it was still a well done film. The screenplay was strong and the story is wonderful. You will be on the edge of your seat and you may also cry, but either way this is definitely worth seeing.
The world was raising. Thunderous canyons shot from below to meet my footsteps. Forests rose and died behind my back. Birds evolved and turned to dust before me. The sky was fire and shadow, and it covered the sun like a closing fist. My hair was a wild brown spirit dancing in the tempest. My consciousness tore apart into a thousand different pieces, each shot itself like a rocketship to a thousand stars. The moon crashed into the earth. Humanity begged to be. Civilization threw its hands up. Existence screamed.

My body is an auditorium. Memory is music fading, acoustics wearing.

Starlight is taxed. Clouds rule the universe. The bridges I walk end before they begin. All the islands and planets are sinking. An air just above me is a melancholy fragrance, and yellowness stains reality. The madness of my flesh is annihilated. I am just a tangle of wires choking a soul, stranded in a breath and under the dead mountains. The edge is deep. I let go, and fall back into a flock of glimmering crystal angels. I dream that they are building me beautiful white wings.
I just got finished watching Maria Full of Grace, one of the movies I rented with my 99 cent cupon. I figured since Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars, that I would see one last performance before the big show on sunday.

Maria Alvarez is 18 and trapped in Colombia where the only decent job is to work in a flower factory removing the thorns. Shortly after she finds out she is pegnant and quits her job, Maria is offered $5,000 to become a drug mule for a cartel. She is to ingest latex capsules full of heroin and transport them into the United States.

The scene where she is swallowing the capsules (62 in all) is uncomfortable, as is the scene in which herself and three other young girls are on the airplane to New York (including her best friend Blanca). They feel ill and are constantly wiping sweat from their brow. It is the single most intense scene of the movie; it is totally claustrophobic.

Once in America, the story becomes more tragic when she is suspected by immigration, gets into trouble with the cartel, and ultimately has to figure out what is best for herself and her unborn child.

It was a very good and unnerving film and Catalina Sandino Moreno is a very beautiful woman who gives a beautiful preformance. She is deffinetly the dark horse in the Oscar race, but somewhere inside I am hoping that if for some reason Hilary Swank doesn't win (which I am fairly certain she will :) ), I hope that the little gold guy smiles on Catalina Sandino Moreno or Kate Winslet.

It is hard to believe that this was her first film--it was the first thing that she has ever done. It was a great preformance.

I'll write back soon,
So...I slept in till 1:00 today. I love Friday's.

After I got up, I spent the next few hours on RT. Then I played GT4 for about an hour. Awesome.

After playing, I got back on RT, browsed, and played iSketch on and off. I took a shower, ate some leftover pizza. Now I'm writing this. I will watch Mean Creek tonight.

Oh, and Maria Full of Grace was very good. Catalina Sandino Moreno however, was marvellous. And the thought of swallowing all those pellets with drugs in them almost made barf. Seriously, that scene was hard to watch for me. I'm weird.
Reservoir Dogs, another great movie. Would probably rank somewhere on my top 25 list.

Italian Job is all action, I like this type of movie. A little suspense, but for the most part, pure action with good actors.

Spy Game was ranked pretty high, I'm not that big of a fan. It had the potential to be better.

Maria: Full of Grace was recommended to me by a friend. I thought it would be interesting.. it wasn't. The beginning was, but once Maria makes it to America, the movie kind of hits a peak and then drops from there.

Zoolander had it's funny moments, but was pretty bland.
I wanted to give it an 8 but just didn't enjoy it enough. Hard to enjoy a movie about a sweet 17 year old drug mule, I guess. I appreciate what they did, though. They took non-actors and made an independant film that had a really high degree of quality and professionalism and acting. I like that they didn't sensationalize the drug scene. In fact, it was the matter-of-factness of the whole thikng that made the movie so interesting. I found the pacing a tad slow for my taste. Had there been a little tension/drama/excitment (je ne said quois) I would have rated it higher. But 7 isn't bad at all, c'mon
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