Maria Full of Grace is a Colombian film by Joshua Marston that explores the issues of desperation and hope of escape, as well as the realities of drug trafficking through the life of a girl named Maria.
At only seventeen years old, Maria Alvarez finds herself in need of a job to support he family, in her desperation opting for the opportunity to be a drug mule. The viewer is taken on her journey as she learns the perils of the occupation.
The film doesn’t exaggerate or romanticize the drug trade; it accurately depicts its harsh realities. It is not camouflaged by spectacular characters, comedic relief, or complex plot twists.
Desperation is a significant theme. It is most easily recognized in Maria. All of her troubles come from desperation. She is not a bad or unreasonable person at heart – she is simply struggling in life, and thus motivated by nothing more than desperation. An example is her likely desperation for love, an escape from her strife, and attention unlike what she gets at home. So she gets a boyfriend far less than what she deserves and becomes pregnant. Her desperation for money is another example; because she needs to support her family, she becomes a drug mule. This is the greatest of Maria’s struggles.
The desire to escape is another big theme. Maria begins with the longing to escape her terrible job, her harsh home life, and poverty. After becoming a drug mule, she discovers the horrors of the work and fears for her life. In the United States, she looks for opportunity for escape from the dangerous job as well as the struggles she faces in Colombia.
The portrayal of this world, the world of drug cartels and their young, female mules, is striking. And this film particularly depicts a strong contrast between the life available in Colombia to a girl like Maria, and life in the U.S. We have no reason to believe Maria’s life will ever truly be better, other than the fact she will never let herself be a drug mule again. However, the film leaves us with Maria and her hope for a better life for herself and her unborn child, and we as viewers can do nothing but hope with her.