Maria Full of Grace (2004)
No other actress stood out to me this year as 23-year-old Catalina Sandino Moreno. She plays the movie’s Maria, a Colombian woman who agrees to carry 60-something condoms filled with heroin in her gut to the United States. The first half of the film is unjudegmental and nerve-racking, especially when Maria gets snagged by U.S. customs. The second half revolves around Maria trying to land on her feet in an unfamiliar land. The greatness of Maria Full of Grace relies on debut writer/director Joshua Marston framing his story like camera is an invisible voyeur. The film suggests that Maria is only one of thousands that have turned into drug mules to make ends meet or seek better lives. Maria Full of Grace is startling, immersive, delicate and quietly touching as Maria rediscovers the promise of the American dream.
Nate’s Grade: A