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Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Canada

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Maria Full of Grace

Chris Campbell

Maria Full of GraceSometimes small, independent films miss my radar. A few nights ago I was able to see Maria Full of Grace at the Al Whittle Theatre as part of the Fundy Film Society Winter program. It's a great film, but it isn't showy. What is striking about the film are the performances and the understated direction. The subject matter (drug smuggling) could be sensationalized, but it is humanized and it grows out of the characters and their struggles. Catalina Sandino Moreno is perfect as Maria. While I was watching the film I was thinking, "What an amazing person" and not "What a great performance"... but that's the sign of a great performance when you aren't watching someone acting as hard as they can. One thing leads to another and the film follows along on a journey from Columbia to New York. Maria Full of Grace is the feature debut of Joshua Marston and he manages to weave together two main threads - the drug smuggling story and the more personal thread of a woman trapped in a small town who wants out. Filmmaking is not so much about talking as about listening and observing and reflecting the insights back at us. Marston seems to have a gift for this.
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