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December 28, 2004

Maria Full of Grace

2004.USA.Marston

2.0 / 4.0

Marston’s directorial debut is a sometimes riveting, other times hackneyed, but ultimately affecting depiction of the life of a “mule”, or human drug container. Anchored by a good performance by Catalina Sandino Moreno, the film almost transcends the limitations imposed on it by forced conflicts and melodrama. At its best, Maria Full of Grace is a primer on drug smuggling that excels in its realism. At its worst, it’s a Latino soap opera with pointless romances, family bickering and blunt, overbearing symbolism. The shots of roses and the parallels between Maria and Carla are tolerable. But the last shot of the film, with a pregnant Maria walking in front of a giant sign that reads: “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” to the tune of a bland, indie rock song, is overkill. In Marston’s defence, the tension between realism and symbolism has been around since at least The Bicycle Thieves. However, if Maria Full of Grace had chosen one over the other it would have probably made a better film. Still, as a debut film it’s good for both Marston and Moreno. As anything else, it’s not bad but not as good as you’ve probably heard.

5 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

Well put!

11:19 am  
Blogger Quack Corleone said...

Thanks.

2:24 pm  
Blogger Scott said...

Yup, I agree with you, especially about the film's final shot. There's nothing wonderful about ingesting kilos of drugs when you're pregnant. Also, her home life in Colombia wasn't the best, but it didn't look *that* bad to me.

9:14 pm  
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