Tim Purtell
December 07, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Maria Full of Grace

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
101 minutes
Wide Release Date
07/16/04
performer
Catalina Sandino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, Patricia Rae, Orlando Tobon, Yenny Paola Vega
director
Joshua Marston
distributor
Fine Line Features
author
Joshua Marston
genre
Foreign Language, Drama

We gave it an A-

Writer-director Joshua Marston’s drama Maria Full of Grace — about a young Colombian woman (a luminous Catalina Sandino Moreno) who attempts to break out of her impoverished life by becoming a drug mule — is riveting and heartbreaking. The same can be said of Marston’s commentary, which occasionally haunts with true-life stories of heartbreak gathered as part of his extensive research. His commentary (a must for aspiring film students) is also a compellingly in-depth account of how a wobbly-sounding drug-war polemic evolved into something more intimate and subtle. The first-time feature director was — as he repeatedly points out — immensely aided by a gifted, improvisatory cameraman and cast. But he was also artist enough to mold his footage into a taut spiral of heightened emotions that feels bracingly real.

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