Maria: Full of Grace Movie Poster Image

Maria: Full of Grace



Unflinching drama of the journey of a drug mule.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

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.


Graphically bloody scene depicting aftermath of drug-transporting accident.


Mild teenage foreplay, sexual discussions regarding pregnancy.

Not applicable
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.

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?


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

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bykatielynn08 November 23, 2010

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
Teen, 16 years old Written byfoxn130 May 12, 2012

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
Parent of a 6, 10, 11, and 13 year old Written byGrama LaVoncita June 25, 2009
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking