Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
Audience Award winner at the Sundance Film Festival and a dramatic highlight at this year’s Berlin Festival, Maria Full of Grace is the terrifying tale of a rebellious young woman seduced into smuggling heroin from Colombia into the US.
“As much intense thriller as it is powerful social comment… The film’s assured storytelling thrust was refreshing at Sundance where narrative lapses and plot trickery were the order of the day.
[Director Joshua] Marston, who also wrote the screenplay, efficiently sets the scene and introduces his characters and their relationships before driving them into a maelstrom of danger. Catalina Sandino Moreno plays Maria, a beautiful 17-year-old desperate to escape her existence as a manual worker in a rose plantation in rural Colombia… Assisted by a tremendously natural young cast, the compassionate Marston assiduously avoids the cliches which even Steven Soderbergh fell prey to in the similarly-themed Traffic. But like Traffic, his story of participants in the drug trade is unusual, often horrifying and compulsive to watch… It’s a must-see.” — Mike Goodridge, Screendaily
“Joshua Marston’s strikingly confident debut maintains an unblinking focus and sustains an almost unbearable level of tension… Marston closes the drama on a resonant note that, while by no means artificially upbeat, introduces an unforced sense of empowerment as Maria stands poised to take control of her future. The drama is superbly calibrated at every turn and never predictable.” — David Rooney, Variety