Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A graceful "Maria"

We finally rented "Maria Full of Grace" tonight, now that I'm back in Netflix's clutches. Imagining something akin to Soderbergh's "Traffic," I steeled myself for a movie with some of the same violence and frenetic frustration that comes from the Catch-22's of the drug trade. But instead, I felt treated to an utterly (yes) graceful and humble movie that infuses its characters with dignity even as it measures their despair. You could almost say the ending was too positive and hopeful -- which isn't to say that some of the lives depicted aren't shattered/altered in the course of the film. The film succeeds in giving us a realistic and methodical (but not plodding) take on one story, without seeming to suggest that this story is The Story of all young female Colombian drug mules. I felt like it challenged some of my expectations and notions, and reminded me that -- despite its horrors and illicit nature -- such underground systems do continue: partly because they thrive on desperation and addiction but also because they work enough (on all sides) to be useful in a strictly utilitarian sense. All of which is to say: No, I don't feel better about the actions shown here, but yes, I'm reminded that these are multi-faceted people participating here, living here, hoping and dreaming here.

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