"How many times have you done this?"I stumbled onto this movie when I was searching Netflix last weekend and memories of the 2004 award season came rushing back to me. All I remembered was a fresh-faced Latina actress named Catalina Sandino Moreno was taking Hollywood (and the red carpet) by storm with her new lead role in the small movie, Maria Full of Grace. Though she didn't win the Oscar (but she did take home several other statuettes), her role in this indie flick still remains poignant, even five years later.
Moreno stars as a pregnant teen who begrudgingly works on a flower plantation earning minimum wage in Colombia, where she's the sole breadwinner for her family, comprised of her mother, sister and nephew. Frustrated with the way things were going, she bumps into a man who offers her a way out--by becoming a drug mule from Colombia to New York. Though she hesitates at first, the idea of freedom from her overwhelming responsibilities at home, a better home for the baby growing inside her, and the possibility of earning more money appealed to her. She enters the world of drug trafficking and finds that not only is the money good, the idea of moving forward and escaping the world she left behind in Colombia excited her even more. But, of course, everything comes with a price, which she learns later. But most importantly she learns just how powerful freedom really is.
A stunning performance by Moreno is the hallmark of the film, which is also illuminated with touching performances by several other characters she meets throughout her journey.
My rating: A