At the 2003 Venice Film Festival, Charlize Theron's emotionally muscular serial-killer turn in "Monster" shared Best Actress honors with another powerful, but lower-key, performance by newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno in "Maria Full of Grace," playing a poor, pregnant Columbian teenager who becomes a drug mule more out of obstinate ambition than resigned desperation.
"Monster" went on to win Theron an Oscar. Now "Maria," which also won awards at Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival, is finally getting a chance to cast its traumatic spell in a theatrical run.
A straightforward story that pulls no punches about the dangers of the drug trade but at the same time paints few characters as out-and-out villains, this frank creation of first-time writer-director Joshua Marston begins with headstrong Maria marching out of an abusive job at a rose nursery -- the one reliable employer in her moldering home town in the Columbian mountains -- and heading to Bogota to find work as a maid.
Continue reading: Maria Full Of Grace Review