Oscar Ritual 2005 : MARIA FULL OF GRACE (rental)
There is such critical praise being heaped on this film that I couldn’t wait to see it. And on first impression, it’s very well worth all of that praise. My only regret is that I don’t understand the Spanish language and, therefore, had to watch this film with subtitles. I’m sure the emotional impact would have been greater without this hindrance.
As it was, Maria Full of Grace is powerful. It’s sad, it’s disturbing, it’s shocking. And I imagine that it’s quite factual, which makes it even more gruesome. Yet, in the center of all its unfathomable details is the story of the young women who work as the mules delivering packets of drugs to the U.S. A feeling of hopelessness must consume them to risk so much for the money they’ll be paid. There cannot be enough praise for Catalina Sandino Moreno. Her depiction of just one of these women makes the entire movie what it is. There is no judgement on the drug trafficking, no condemnation on the women, only the reality of what they must endure and how it must feel to enter America, with all the hope of its freedom and its opportunities. With money in hand for the task accomplished, why wouldn’t they want to stay? Wouldn’t the fear of repeating the job be more than the fear of starting anew in an unknown country? It’s worthy of great discussion, and Maria, Full of Grace is a perfect film with which to begin.
I would love to see the Academy reward the filmmaker and the actress for this film. It’s a rare gem that, fortunately, didn’t get lost in the shuffle of epic battle films and all-star casts.