Combustible Celluloid
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With: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Yenny Paola Vega, Giulied Lopez, John Alex Toro
Written by: Joshua Marston
Directed by: Joshua Marston
MPAA Rating: R for drug content and language
Language: Spanish and English with English subtitles
Running Time: 101
Date: 01/18/2004

Maria Full of Grace (2004)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Drug Shots

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A frightened, teenage girl is trapped in a sleazy, New Jersey hotelroom with two nasty drug dealers. When her chance comes, she takes it;she runs. In a normal movie, the girl would eventually turn the tableson her pursuers, capturing them or killing them and emerging victorious;but not in Joshua Martson's Maria Full of Grace. In this debut film,Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno) loses her job de-thorning roses andbecomes a drug mule. To earn her paycheck, she must swallow more than 60latex-wrapped heroin capsules and travel from Colombia to the US withoutlosing her cool or getting caught. Moreover, if even one of the capsulesbreaks or dissolves in her system, she will die. NYU educated filmmakerMarston follows in Ken Loach's footsteps, telling hard-luck stories oftrue-to-life people struggling with the harsh political realities thatmany of us may not even be aware of. Marston sidesteps all possiblegenre conventions and avoids allusions to the bigger picture, in whichrich, spoiled Americans enjoy the fruits of Maria's labor. Mostly heallows the extraordinary Moreno, who also makes her movie debut here, tocarry all the uncertainty, terror and pain on her own young, strikingshoulders.

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