María Full of Grace

María Full of Grace (María, llena eres de gracia), directed by Joshua Marston, is a story about a teenage girl from rural Colombia named María (played by Catalina Sandino Moreno). When the film begins, she demonstrates her independence in several ways. She objects when her boyfriend Juan (played by Wilson Guerrero) wants to make love to her on the roof of a building. When she later informs him that she is pregnant, he offers to marry her, but she refuses. She quits her job packing roses because her boss is rude when she requests leave to go to the bathroom. She objects when her mother demands her paycheck to pay for expenses of her baby nephew but ultimately complies. To survive with dignity, she then decides to go to Bogotá, but she agrees to be a mule, and swallows cocaine pellets just before going to the United States on board a nonstop flight to New York along with her girlfriend Blanca (played by Yenny Paola Vega). After evading suspicious custom inspectors at JFK airport, she learns that her friend Lucy, also a mule, is killed when one of the pellets bursts, so she leaves her assigned accommodation with Blanca to find another place to live. The drug collectors, nevertheless, track down both girls and pay them the promised $5,000, albeit reluctantly. But when María asks for Lucy’s share to provide funds for her family, they laugh in her face. Although they provide return tickets to Colombia, so that the girls can continue to bring in more, María has other ideas. After investing part of her payoff to ensure that Lucy’s body will be returned home to Colombia, she remains in New York, while Blanca returns to Colombia. She has resourcefully found another way to survive. María Full of Grace eloquently exposes the hazards faced by those who, out of desperation, participate in the billion-dollar cocaine trade. MH

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