Monday, June 20, 2005



Maria Full of Grace is a fictional documentary: The director, Joshua Marston, was trying to make a film which described the real situation of an ordinary drug mule – the person who brings the drugs to the US. Sometimes fiction is the best way to tell the truth.

Unlike most films, which are constructed to hit plot points first, and be real second, this movie tries very hard to be real. Of course, it takes a lot of artifice to do that, as Joshua describes in his voice-over commentary on the DVD.

It is a terrific story, interesting and dramatic.

The acting, by Catalina Sandino Moreno is very fine. She has the very special ability to be sympathetic even though she is swallowing drug pellets while she is pregnant, running drugs, lying to customs agents, and neglecting to tell the woman who is sheltering her that the woman’s sister has just died from a drug overdose when a pellet broke in her stomach.

This is Joshua’s first feature film, but it has the mature hand of someone who has had other significant careers before this. It was built on tremendous research, and hard, hard work. It is entirely in Spanish – Columbian Spanish, in fact, and much of the movie was shot in Ecuador, doubling for Columbia, but with a mostly Columbian creative crew and Columbian actors all flown in.

It was a prize winner at Sundance and Berlin, and Catalina won the prize for best actress at the Berlin Film Festival.

It’s a movie that’s well worth seeing. And even more interesting, a movie that was worth making.

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