Saturday, February 19, 2005

Movie Review: Maria Full of Grace

Maria is a 17 year old Columbian woman who doesn't know what to do. She supports her family by working in a flower factory, her boyfriend doesn't love her, her boss is unforgiving, and her family is demanding. She runs away from what she has but doesn't know where to turn and the drug trade finds her and she succumbs.

She becomes a mule, to carry drugs to the United States in her stomach. We're shown all the steps, from the introductions, to the swallowing of "pellets", obtaining papers, going through customs, etc. As one of the characters says, it's not easy but it's not too difficult either. While there are some very unpleasant things in this film, it struck me that this wasn't a filthy underworld of say Trainspotting nor a bloodfest like Scarface.

As an American, I know only a characature of Columbia. I saw ordinary people, with less opportunity than we have, with a system in place to take advantage of them. Maria wasn't kidnapped, wasn't threatened at gunpoint, wasn't tricked into it. She was jull pulled a little bit at a time further than she should have gone, when her other choices at least weren't obvious. In the end, she had only her own sense of right and wrong and possibilities. That's all any of us really have. While I haven't been faced with too many decsions as severe as Maria's, this film made the world a little smaller for me, and that's a good thing.

1 comment:

Mike Foley said...

A very good movie that really left me thinking for a long time after the movie ended. It flowed more like a documentary than a drama for me. Extraordinary acting job by Maria, so much so I think I will try and find another movie with her in it.

Up until the last minute I viewed this as a tragedy, but a very puzzling tragedy that I am still trying to make sense of. Most tragedies seem precipitated by pride, or hubris. But none of that here...or was there? In one of the opening scenes Maria rejects her boyfriend to climb to greater heights rather than continue with her existence...difficult job and family situation. But wanting more than that life offered....does that qualify as the hubris precipitating a tragic sequence of events that leaves her friend dead, sister on a wayward path, family in Columbia in peril, and unborn baby at extreme peril?

In the end, she decides to stay in America, for the opportunities it will provide for her unborn child. A rather thought provoking immigrant story. Who, or what, is to blame or needs to be changed to divert such tragedy from recurring? Is this even a tragedy, or some dark story of hope, coming of age, and coming to America?