5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Where people mean nothing and the contents of their stomach mean everything.,
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This review is from: Maria Full Of Grace [DVD] (DVD)
This film proved to be something of an education for me. Having never been involved in drugs, I've not really thought about the poor saps who bring them into the country (be it here in the UK or over the pond, or anywhere). This film uses documentarial first hand experiences to build a film which humanises the faceless world of the drugs mule.
The story of Maria, the young woman (17) exploited in the workplace and overly depended on by her family for her wages is gripping. Pregnant and desperate to escape the existence she has in order to find life, she finds herself and her friend involved in the ugly world of drug trafficking. It's from this point on that we get to see how the underworld can seem friendly enough to begin with, but the danger of the situation becomes clear when an off the cuff remark about `paying her family a visit' (and consequently naming them) is made - the film is a stomach clencher from this point on as you desperately will Maria to not come to any harm.
This is a film which allows us to see the human story behind the illegal substances on the streets. The traffickers aren't evil, they are poor people being exploited and too scared `get out'. The most disturbing scene in the film involves a trafficker called Lucy, and depicts what happens if one of the pellets opens up inside the stomach - although nothing graphic is shown, you are left in no doubt as to what has happened. This film certainly does not glamorise the drugs world.
The film threw me slightly, I knew what the film was about (it's all in the synopsis on the back of the DVD cover) - but the cover picture initially looked to me, to be depicting a scene of holy communion, the title of the film almost enforces this. But after watching this, I see it another way now.
In a nutshell: This film isn't about drugs, well, it is, but the driving force of the film is Maria and her journey. The drugs do play a pivotal role though, but not in a traditional sense. There are no scenes of drug taking - the impact of the film is how the people who carry the drugs are made to feel looked after, but soon come to realise that they mean nothing to the people pulling the strings. They are simply a carry-case, the contents of their stomachs is what is of value. A moving film, well written/directed by Joshua Marston, and with an absolutely fantastic performance by Catalina Sandino Moreno to make Maria truly believable.