Unpredictable and Fascinating
What works really well for Maria Full of Grace is its unpredictability; while watching it, you can't really tell where it's going, and it never quite goes where you expect it to, yet you're glued to the events all the way. A good combination of solid elements contributes to this.
First, its story -- about young Colombian women who turn to smuggling drugs to the U.S. for income -- is naturally fascinating, especially when you find out how they go about this smuggling. Second, the movie is shot in the natural, straightforward style that emphasizes realism and well-disguises writing contrivances. Third, its star, Catalina Sandino Moreno, turns out to be one of those great finds of the screen, a convincing actress with beauty and charisma.
The movie is subtly harrowing, with a quiet bleakness. Perhaps it can be too subtle; it contains a lot of religious symbolism and maintains a sympathetic distance from its characters, so it hopes to make a seeping, not sweeping, impact on the viewer.
(Released by Fine Line Features and rated "R" for drug content and language.)
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