1. Maria Full of GraceThe movie is set in some place in Colombia and revolves around an intelligent andattractive woman, Maria. Maria is a typical girl who’s family pressures and dead end jobhave taken a toll on her life. With a sister who has a baby to support and a mother who isill, Maria is expected to work at a dead end job to support her family. After Maria getspregnant with a temporary boyfriend she quits from her job. Maria ends up being a drugmule and going to New York to make money to support her family. Things do not endup well and Maria runs away to live a life in New York. I think the desperation and apathy of a large number of Colombian women ofmeager means are very well portrayed in the film. Maria along with other women at therose assembly line are being forced to work standing up without much consideration.They are in a sense machine to the employers. Maria knows it is a job which is not goingto get her anywhere but can’t see any other options. At home, she is expected to help herwhole family since her sister has a baby to take care of. It is a life with very few if anymoments of happiness. The constant bickering about money, feelings of loyalty to familyand feeling powerless to change the future are the undertones of the movie. Maria does not want to get into the drug trafficking business but doesn’t see anyother options to support her family. The money would be good and would take care ofthe problems at least temporarily. Maria befriends another girl who has been a drug mulea couple of times and she serves as a mentor. The two girls form an affectionate bondand sisterhood. Her friend tells Maria about her sister who lives in New York and howshe badly wanted to see her but couldn’t since her sister would ‘kill’ her if she found out
2. what she was doing. Again, the dynamics of family as being the one and only thing intheir lives is shown in the movie. Maria hesitates agreeing to being a drug mule in a scene but agrees for the mostpart when the drug boss gives her some money saying there ‘are no obligations’. It is asociety in which more weight is given to demeanor and body language whencommunications as opposed to plain speaking. It seems the people are tied down largelyby customs and being part of a family even though the old structures have broken down.For example, Maria’s house does not have any male figure in it. The two sisters share theresponsibility. The men in Maria’s life are shown as chauvinists who are concerned withonly abusing women. Yet Maria is expected to serve her family. In the old days, themen would go out to hunt and the women would stay at home to tend to the yound andthe old. Due to globalization, those family structures have been destroyed and yet peoplestill try to cling on to the customs and traditions of the old. In America, the children arenot expected to look after the parents once they get older. Yet in Columbia, that is notthe case. Maria Full of Grace, in a sense captures the problems facing women all over thedeveloping world. The social support structures such as extended families, tribes have allgone away leaving behind an every man for himself mentality. The society is interestedin exploiting them all the way from boyfriends to bosses. Even the drug traffickers areinterested in how much drugs each girl can carry. As if they are animals. Maria at theend realizes that she needs to break free from the life of servitude to the customs whenshe does not board the plane back to Colombia. She knows she will probably never seeher family again but realizes that if she does not make this decision now she will be
3. unhappy and regretful for the rest of her life. However, America gives her a chance tomake a new start and to escape the life of mediocrity at best and servitude at worst.