Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Maria Full of Loneliness

In 2004 a little movie came to USA theatres and video stores from Colombia. Maria Full of Grace was slated to be submitted for Academy Award consideration that year, but was ultimately rejected because it was not Colombian enough. It was a loss for the Oscars. Maria Full of Grace is almost spiritual and meditative in its treatment of Maria, a teen-ager from a small village in Colombia.

Maria has an awful job with an awful boss. She has a terrible sister whose baby Maria is forced to support. Although we do not learn much about Maria's mother or grandmother, they are not much help to her. Maria's boyfriend is a dead-beat loser with no ambition and no future. Maria's life is one dead-end after another. And that is when Maria finds out that she is pregnant. After an argument with her boss, she quits her job. After a confrontation with her mother and sister, she leaves town.

And that is where Franklin comes in. Franklin has connections in the drug business. He hooks Maria up with Javier a dealer from Bogota. The potential to get out of her small town existence looks too good for Maria to pass up. She agrees to become a "mule," transporting drugs from Colombia to the USA. She swallows 62 pellets filled with drugs and then passes them in New Jersey where she is paid for her work.

There are a lot more details to this story than I have just given. But you can get the idea. There are two themes that immediately spring to my mind.
  1. Maria is desperate. She has many strikes against her life. There is no chance that Maria will ever be successful, at least the way most people think of success. There is so much failure and hopelessness around her that she cannot help but think that her future is the same. Maria needs to change her circumstances so that she can change her potential. Although we certainly cannot endorse her choices- no one in this film does, either- we can understand the reasons behind her actions.
  2. Maria is lonely. There is no one who cares about her. Her employer is only interested in Maria's production. Her boyfriend is only interested in the physical amusement that she provides. Her sister and mother are only interested in her financial contribution. No one cares about Maria.

There is a lesson here. It is not about drug trafficking and the drug trade. It is not about illegal immigration or civil rights. The lesson is that we should be certain to care about people. Let no one be lonely. It ought to be our mission.

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