Sunday, March 29, 2009

World Movie Series - 8 - Maria full of Grace

There are hundreds of people who work in a far away country from their motherland. Most of them might have gone there not because of their own wish but because of other commitments like their family, situation etc. Whatever adversity they endure, they will not come back. Instead, they will stay, face the situation and will fight back, as they are the only source of income to their families. Their lives are the most pathetic, enduring all kinds of problems.

Maria full of Grace is one such film which portrays a young girl’s iron will, which makes her to sacrifice her life for her family.

Maria is a 17 year old girl, working in a Rose factory, in Columbia. Her routine work includes cleaning roses, plucking out the thorns and packaging them. There are many girls in the factory, working from morning to night. As the film opens, we see Maria traveling in the bus, along with the other girls, for work. She also has a boyfriend, who doesn’t love her unreservedly, and has a few problems with Maria. Maria thinks that her boyfriend is too playful, without taking any step towards their marriage. She also is pregnant, and talks to him. He asks her to live in his house after their marriage but Maria resists. She tells his house is too small, and they don’t have privacy. Instead, she asks him to come to her house. He fights with Maria and tells he doesn’t love her. Maria too shouts that she doesn’t love him, and leaves.

Back home, we see Maria’s family. Her mom and her sister. Her sister has an illicit baby, and both the mother and sister are dependent entirely on Maria’s salary. Maria doesn’t like her sister pestering for money, and she openly fights with her sister. Her mom shouts at Maria saying Maria has become a rebel, with no love towards her sister.

One day, Maria is too sick to work at the factory. She tells the supervisor she has to go to the bathroom, but the supervisor shouts at her. She pukes on the bunch of roses, and the supervisor asks her to clean everything. He barks that she is lazy at her work, and she has to make up for the unfinished work.

We see Maria announcing to her mom and sister that she has quit the job. They both shout at Maria asking her to apologize to the supervisor and to join back at the work, but Maria refuses and goes away. Earlier, once in a carnival, she meets with a young lad who dances with her. Now, after seeing Maria at the bus stand waiting to go to Bogotá, a nearby city in search of work, he offers her a new job. To serve as a mule. To go to US, deliver something, and to come back. She thinks for a while and accepts the offer. He takes her to the local drug dealer, who questions Maria about her health and fitness and finally accepts to recruit her. Maria sees Lucy, a fellow mule, in the bus and goes to her home. Lucy briefs Maria about the kind of work she has accepted to do, and warns her about the danger in it.

Maria tells her mother that she is visiting a far away city for work and gets ready for the US trip. The drug dealer gives her neatly packed Cocaine in little capsules, and asks her to swallow all the 62 capsules. She has to deliver these capsules in the US and to return back. He gives her $800. Maria swallows all the capsules with great difficulty, and learns that her friend Blanca too, has accepted to be a mule. In the flight, she also sees Lucy, and Blanca tells Maria there is another woman too, in the flight, as a mule. They send many girls, as even if one gets caught, the others can deliver the cocaine. Lucy gives Maria her sister’s address in the US.

In the flight, Maria feels sick. Her body reacts to the cocaine capsules at her stomach, and a few capsules come out in the toilet. Maria cleans them, and swallows them again, as now she is in to the game, and there is no looking back.

At the New York airport, the customs officials spot Maria and they interrogate her. They know that something is fishy about a seventeen year old girl, coming to the US for the first time who tells them that she is giving a surprise visit on her sister. They question her had she swallowed any cocaine capsules to smuggle them in US, and she refuses. They do a medical test and discover Maria is pregnant. So they acquit her.

Maria joins Lucy and Blanca outside the airport. They see the fourth woman being arrested by the police for carrying drugs. They go to a hotel, where they have to deliver the capsules to the local thugs. After a short nap, when Maria wakes up, she witnesses the thugs kill Lucy, and along with Blanca, escapes out from the hotel, taking all the cocaine.

Maria goes to Lucy’s sister. She tells she is a friend of Lucy who is working as a secretary in Columbia. Lucy’s sister believes Maria and offers her shelter. Blanca too joins them. Lucy’s sister takes Maria to a local Don, who can find Maria a job. Maria tells everything to the don, and about Lucy’s death. The don finds out that the local thugs are in search of Maria and Blanca and he advises to return the cocaine to them.

After handing over the cocaine, Maria and Blanca receive the flight tickets back to Columbia. The don by this time, talks to Lucy’s sister and briefs her about Lucy’s death. Lucy’s sister shouts at Maria to get out of her home. Maria hands over a part of her money to the don, to ship Lucy’s body back to Columbia.

The day of their travel arrives, and in the airport, Maria and Blanca stand in the queue for checking in. Blanca moves in and it is Maria‘s turn. She suddenly walks out from the queue, and waves to Blanca. With determined eyes, Maria turns back, starts walking strong-minded, out of the airport. She has decided to stay back in the US, with a grace that will carry her forward in to her new saga, to live for her family. The film slowly fades out.

Maria full of Grace is a thumping film about the hardships faced by such people like Maria, having to do what they dislike, for the sake of their family. It touches the heart, when we see innocent Maria, slowly getting entangled in to the world of drugs, and her strong will, at the end, to stay back at the US, to make a living. It reminds us of the numerous poor women and men, shipped to the gulf and other African countries, to make a living.

This Spanish movie was released in 2004, and is directed by Joshua Marston. Catalina Sandino Moreno brings out a touching piece of acting as Maria. We often see the helpless Maria becoming a victim in the hands of fate, and the helpless, deserted expression at her face. She is like an angel in distress. The movie has many touching scenes, like the one where Maria goes for check up at a New York hospital, where she sees her baby inside the stomach, moving it’s arms and legs. She becomes happy, and listens to the doctor showing her the baby’s eyes and fingers. At the final scene, we see Maria holding the scanned copies of the baby, while entering in to the airport. Suddenly, inside the airport, she decides to come out of this kind of life (drug trafficking), which affects other people, and so, instead of going back to Columbia and to continue shipping drugs, decides to stay back in the US. Her grace emanates from this very decision she makes, and we see a determined Maria walking sternly out of the airport.

It becomes certain to us that Maria will live a sacrificed life henceforth, living for her family and the baby. She will radiate her grace from this time on, and will bring in a new life for the baby.

See the trailer here.


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