It's painfully understandable that the 17-year-old title character of "Maria Full of Grace" would risk her freedom and even her life to be a drug mule. This gripping Colombian film, written and directed by Joshua Marston, follows the desperate plunge of Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) from a dead-end job as an assembly-line worker in a Colombian flower factory into the drug-smuggling underworld.
This treacherous territory, where young women, seduced by suave, sweet-talking recruiters, can earn large sums by smuggling heroin into the United States, is Maria's last resort when she finds herself unemployed and pregnant. Her ruthless new bosses make her former taskmasters look like angels.
Before the story zeroes in on the harrowing details of drug running and its dangers, it depicts Maria's hopelessly circumscribed life in the rural village where she lives with her mother, grandmother and sister. She is expected to turn over to the family the minuscule salary she earns dethorning roses in a sweatshop atmosphere.
Hounded by her boss to be more productive, she impulsively quits. Even when her family panics, she refuses to grovel to get her job back. She also becomes pregnant by her deadbeat boyfriend, Juan (Wilson Guerrero), who reluctantly offers to marry her. Because she doesn't love him, she turns down the proposal.
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