Where is the line between crime and law, and does the eagerness to survive and improve one’s life conditions justify any way of getting the purpose? Once again the director of the film Maria Full of Grace, Joshua Marston, puts these questions open to progressive society. The first screening of the film took place in 2004. The film won prestigious new age movie festivals, and a young unknown actress Catalina Sandino Moreno was awarded the best actress prize for her leading part in the film (Thomson, 2004). From the first episodes, the screenplay resembles documentary. The film’s particular characteristic is a thought provoking closeness to reality. The author does not intrude upon his concepts and visions of good or evil. He depicts reality without exaggerations, but with true colors.
Global society is divided today according to the principals of prosperity. Highly developed countries provide their citizens with an enormous variety of possibilities and social advantages, while people of the Third world often lack food and drinking water. The life conditions in developing countries are still poor. What price people are ready to pay to escape the bondage of the twenty first century? The present day god is money and people still make sacrifices to it.
The film reveals what price the young girl and her unborn baby have to pay in order to have new opportunities in life. Joshua Marston gives his example of a possible answer. He draws the attention of public to the utmost actual problem of the drug trade. In an unusual way, he manages to bear sympathy to a criminal girl who gets entangled in the smuggling process.
People are used to justifying themselves in any life situation which is a protective function of a living organism. Ambition is a characteristic and necessary trait of those who strive to gain success in life. Both are the leading traits of the main character of the film, Maria Alvarez. She is endowed with unusual grace to remain calm and confident when facing life challenges and desperate moments. The risks of dying or being arrested do not prevent the girl from becoming a drug smugglers’ “mule”.
Maria Alvarez is a young woman from Bogota region, Columbia. She lives in a rural area and has to work at the rose plantation for a very little payment. After some conflicts at work, the employer dismisses Maria and she faces the necessity to find another way to earn her living. Marie discovers that she is pregnant, but refuses to marry her boyfriend, who is far from being ambitious and does not show any strong character features. The girl rushes to Bogota by bike with a shabby guy who offers her some job. In fact, Maria is suggested to become a carrier. Her job is to transport to America sixty two heroin capsules in her stomach. In Bogota, Maria gets acquainted with another girl Lucy who has managed to do the job twice before. Maria’s friend Blanca is also engaged into the drug traffic bargain. During the flight on the plain, there appears one another woman who also carries drugs inside. New York custom authorities detain Maria and the woman from the plane. They both have to be x-rayed, but Maria’s pregnancy saves her from being arrested. In America, three girls face the rude treatment from the drug agents. Lucy feels bad and needs medical help, but any health problems do not concern the dealers. At night, Maria wakes up and sees blood in the bathroom. She understands that Lucy is lost. Then she wakes up Blanca and they flee away from the drug agents’ flat. They take heroin capsules with them. Maria goes to Lucy’s sister. She introduces herself as Lucy’s friend but does not reveal the truth about recent events. Lucy’s sister and her husband are loyal and hospitable to Maria and Blanca. They sincerely want to help girls in finding a suitable job in America. Soon the fact of Lucy’s death reveals and her sister accuses the girls of dishonesty. Maria and Blanca telephone the drug dealers and arrange to give them drugs back. Maria helps in the arrangement of a decent funeral for Lucy on the money she has got from dealers. She gives money for the transportation of the body to Columbia. The last episodes of the film show Maria’s intention to stay in America. Blanca is flying away to Columbia while Maria is going along grey corridor of the airport with determined and anticipating face.
The director of the screenplay depicts the challenges of the drug trade world. He departs from usual abjection of drug dealers and depicts them as cooperative and adequate partners who conduct their business. Everything is fair. The consequences of the drug smuggling engagement are obvious and threatening. Nevertheless, there are many people ready to risk. The payoff is too luring for those who have little to lose. Lucy’s death is an example of a possible and not rare outcome.
The screenplay’s scenario is developed in such a way that justifies Maria’s choice. The treatment among the supervisors and workers at the plant are distrustful. Maria and her relatives have to live in a cramped house and do not have proper meals or medicine care. Besides, her boyfriend does not understand Maria’s striving for new opportunities in life. She is unsatisfied but gracefully calm.
At the New York airport customs, she is suspected of being a drug “mule” just out of presumption that she would not be able to buy a flight ticket to America from the money she has earned at the rose plantation. Maria is in despair but manages to remain gracefully calm.
The same repeats when she comes to Lucy’s sister. All Maria’s behavior and looks depict that everything is fine and there are no problems. She constantly has to make a choice in her strivings to survive in a completely unknown area without knowing the language, without having anyone to address for help. In the end, while she is going along the airport corridor, Maria is gracefully confident that she and her unborn child deserve a better life than she used to live.
The film has made a great impact on me. Till now I have been strongly against those who are in this or another way engaged into the drug trade process. Now I see that my view is a mere stereotype. Although it still remains the fact that Maria Alvarez has committed a crime to those who will use drugs and get easy access to them, the disgraceful problem of drug smuggling is just a background of a more profound insight into the poor environment challenges. How has it become possible for a beautiful, healthy, graceful and strong girl, who is going to become a mother, to make such a choice? Is not it a more serious crime to desert and abolish the fertile lands of Columbia, and make people live in such turmoil? These questions remain open for me.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the film is a very instructive story for those who are not familiar with drugs trade process. It discloses possible dangers, which a newcomer may face. The film presents a strong blame to politicians who let the situation of the few job options thrive in the third world countries. Lucy’s sister noted that she would not return to Columbia despite the challenges she might face in America. Her strongest argument for leaving native land forever is the absence of any perspectives for her family. Maria keeps the same argument and is not willing to return home; her next choice is an opportune land.
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