Maria Full of Grace

April 2nd, 2004


more trailers Maria Full of Grace

Still of Orlando Tobón in Maria Full of GraceStill of Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of GraceOrlando Tobón at event of Maria Full of GraceStill of John Álex Toro and Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of GraceStill of Catalina Sandino Moreno and Yenny Paola Vega in Maria Full of GraceStill of Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace

A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family.

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 7.6/10 (19,708 voted)

Critic's Score: 87/100

Director: Joshua Marston

Stars: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, Orlando Tobón

In a small village in Colombia, the pregnant seventeen years old Maria supports her family with her salary working in a floriculture. She is fired and with a total lack of perspective of finding a new job, she decides to accept the offer to work as a drug mule, flying to USA with sixty-two pellets of cocaine in her stomach. Once in New York, things do not happen as planned.

Catalina Sandino Moreno - María Álvarez
Virgina Ariza - Juana
Yenny Paola Vega - Blanca
Rodrigo Sánchez Borhorquez - Supervisor
Charles Albert Patiño - Felipe
Wilson Guerrero - Juan
Johanna Andrea Mora - Diana Álvarez
Fabricio Suarez - Pacho
Mateo Suarez - Pacho
Evangelina Morales - Rosita
Juana Guarderas - Female Pharmacist
John Álex Toro - Franklin (as Jhon Alex Toro)
Jaime Osorio Gómez - Javier (as Jaime Osorio Gomez)
Guilied Lopez - Lucy Díaz
Victor Macias - Pellet Maker

Taglines: How far will she go before she's gone too far?


Official Website: Fine Line Features [United States] | HBO |

Release Date: 2 April 2004

Filming Locations: Amaguaña, Ecuador

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $139,066 (USA) (18 July 2004) (7 Screens)

Gross: $6,517,198 (USA) (7 November 2004)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Catalina Sandino Moreno became the first actress ever to be nominated to Best Actress at the Oscars for a role that it is spoken entirely in Spanish.

Continuity: After Maria gives Don Fernando the money for Lucy's family, she takes her wallet out twice.

Javier: Well then... We're going to give you several rolls of film. We'll send you to New York... Actually to New Jersey - a small town next to New York. Once you go through Customs you'll be met by our people. They will take you to a safe place. We'll develop the rolls. And in five, six days you'll be back here with all your money taking care of your problems.

User Review

A riveting human odyssey that transcends simplistic messages

Rating: 10/10

In Joshua Marston's small budget film Maria Full of Grace, a headstrong Colombian girl of seventeen (Catalina Sandino Moreno), determined to escape from a country where the average annual income is about $1700 US, seizes an opportunity to earn $5000 by ingesting and transporting illegal drugs to New York at considerable risk to herself and her unborn child. Inspired by a woman in his Brooklyn neighborhood who told him her story of swallowing capsules of heroin and boarding a plane for the United States, first-time director Marston has escaped the clichés of social realist films to offer a riveting human odyssey that transcends simplistic messages of good and evil. Shot in documentary style with a hand-held camera in Ecuador and New York, the film's authenticity is greatly enhanced by its use of Colombian actors speaking in their native Spanish language.

Maria Alvarez along with her best friend Blanca (Yenny Paola Vega), works at a job stripping thorns from roses in a village near Bogota, Colombia. Despite low wages and deplorable working conditions, her pay provides support for her grandmother, mother, sister, and infant nephew to sustain their meager household. After she has words with her boss, she quits her job and soon discovers she is pregnant by a local boy Juan (Wilson Guerrero) whom she does not love and refuses to marry. Feeling trapped, she quickly accepts when Franklin (Jhon Alex Toro), a friend she recently met at a dance, offers her a huge sum of money to smuggle drugs into the U.S. The trick is that she must swallow up to 100 heroin pellets sealed with latex and dental floss, knowing that certain death follows if one of them bursts.

The lovely Ms. Moreno, in an Oscar-worthy debut performance, is no cardboard character but a fully developed human being who epitomizes the desperation of people who are willing to do almost anything to better their life. The tension is almost unbearable as we follow Maria's odyssey into danger. She soon meets drug kingpin Javier (Jaime Osorio Gomez), who explains the operation, and in secret, talks with Lucy (Guilied Lopez), who shares her experience in carrying drugs to America and allows her to practice by swallowing large grapes.

After barely escaping the probing of U.S. Customs Officers in New York, things begin to go wrong and Maria and Blanca must rely on their tremendous resolve to survive in a confusing and lonely environment. Winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance and two major awards at the Berlin Film Festival, Maria Full of Grace is not only a hard-hitting jab at a global economic system that allows exploitation of the poor to satisfy the pleasure of the rich, but a richly nuanced coming-of-age story that delivers its hard-edged message with understanding and compassion. One of the best films of the year.