Maria: Full of Grace

  • Review Date: October 26, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Unflinching drama of the journey of a drug mule.
  • Review Date: October 26, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Maria is a complicated character. She illegally transports drugs (while pregnant). But she's also caught in a difficult world, and in the end finds her inner strength.

Violence

Graphically bloody scene depicting aftermath of drug-transporting accident.

Sex

Mild teenage foreplay, sexual discussions regarding pregnancy.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teen drinking, drinking while pregnant, humans used as vessels for transportation of drug pellets.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is about an unfortunate chain of events that leads a 17-year old Colombian girl, Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno), to smuggle drugs into the U.S. by swallowing them. The processes of preparing the drugs for swallowing, the actual swallowing, and the retrieval are shown in exhaustive detail. Though only one brief heavy kissing scene takes place, much of the plot revolves around Maria's pregnancy and the pressures it brings, which are discussed extensively. Language (English subtitles) is casual and conversational, but often heated and uncensored. While Maria is noble in many regards, her actions are dangerous, and they put her life in jeopardy.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

Struggling to help her family survive, Maria Alvarez, a Colombian teen, works under tough conditions in a flower factory. Pushed too far by her supervisor, she quits her job, and very soon after, she meets Franklin, a young man who suggests that she act as a drug mule -- swallowing packets of heroin to smuggle them into the U.S. Although she makes it out safely, things quickly get out of her control, and she finds herself both in a foreign country and in a dangerous predicament.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

At times agonizing to watch due to its detailed execution, MARIA FULL OF GRACE is a powerful film, sure to affect almost any viewer. In Maria, actor Catalina Sandino Moreno creates a character with which most people will find it hard not to sympathize, and for such a relentlessly distressing story, her high level of charisma is crucial to keep viewers watching.

This is a gritty -- almost documentary-like -- look at what it's like to be a drug mule. It certainly doesn't glamorize drug culture (one mule is caught by police, another becomes deathly ill after swallowing her balloons, but Maria eventually emerges a stronger person). But the movie doesn't condemn Maria for making tough choices; in the end, she has emerged a stronger person.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the fact that smaller movies are often grittier than big-budget pictures. Why do you think that is? How would this movie have been different if Jennifer Lopez had played the lead? Would it have been as effective?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 16, 2004
DVD release date:December 12, 2004
Cast:Catalina Sandino Moreno, Virginia Ariza, Yenny Paola Vega
Director:Joshua Marston
Studio:Fine Line Features
Genre:Drama
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:drug content and language.

This review of Maria: Full of Grace was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byfoxn130 May 12, 2012
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Thought-provoking film offers dark, but important view of drug-cultures

Maria Full of Grace is an incredible poignant film showing grace in a darker corner of the world. It forces us to consider not only the harm that drugs cause to our own bodies, but also the significance of drug culture in the lives of people around the world. Also good practice for Spanish speaking teens, and offers a view of a violent and dangerous aspect of Latin-American culture.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bykatielynn08 November 23, 2010
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Eye-opening film for older teens

This is a great film to show why someone might choose to function as a human mule for smuggling drugs. Viewers will likely find some scenes disturbing, such as smugglers cutting open the abdomen of a dead victim to extract drugs contained within her. However, the film is educational and informative for older teens. Also, the ending is hopeful and shows Maria regaining her power to choose the kind of life that she wants.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Parent of a 6, 10, 11, and 13 year old Written byGrama LaVoncita June 25, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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