CFS’ latest film is “full of grace”

Diana Luzzi

The act of drug trafficking is depicted in many films and in a variety of ways. However, the film “Maria Full of Grace” represents this illegal activity in an approach that most viewers would not anticipate; characters in the film are shown transporting drugs through bizarre tactics.

Maria, the main character of film, is a 17-year-old girl who longs to leave her poor village in Colombia and come to the United States. She ends up making the life-changing decision to become a drug courier, and this decision leads her down a dangerous path.

Being a so-called “mule” does not mean Maria has to hide drugs in her clothing or in her luggage; instead, she has to ingest the drugs, which are wrapped in latex wrapping similar to balloons. While this is horrific and can be life-threatening, it is in fact a tactic used in real life, and the film portrays this in a highly realistic account.

The brilliance of the film is centered on the fact that the characters are portrayed as regular people, just like those of us who are viewing the film. This makes the drama much more believable and allows the audience to relate to the story on an intimate level.

Maria does not only represent a single girl in a time of desperation; rather, she signifies many of the women who find themselves in similar situations and feel they have no choice but to take risks. In Maria’s case, she is willing to become a mule in order to go to America and have a better life.

This 2004 drama was not made by a large Hollywood studio. Instead, director Joshua Marston, in his directorial debut, made an independent, very low-budget feature. To save money, he even plays a role in the film. Marston was driven to make this film as realistic as possible. For example, to get insight into his characters, he interviewed real-life drug mules and customs officials, and he cast some of the roles with nonprofessional actors.

“Maria Full of Grace” has won many awards at film festivals and is definitely worth seeing. Watch for Catalina Sandino Moreno, the actress who plays Maria, this Sunday night at the Academy Award ceremony, as she has been nominated for a best actress award for her role in this movie.

The upcoming offering in Villanova’s current Cultural Film and Lecture Series, “Loss of Innocence/Growth of Awareness,” this film will be shown four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sundayat 3:30 and 7 p.m., and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students with I.D. and $5 for all others. The Monday evening showing only will feature Isabel Medina as the guest speaker. Medina, a professor of law at Loyola University (visiting this year at Villanova), will introduce the film and lead a discussion, “A Colombia Education,” afterward.