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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Arts Recommends

Published: November 18, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

‘Maria Full of Grace’

“Maria Full of Grace” is a shudder-inducing film. For the entirety of the film, the audience is constantly in disbelief as we follow the life of Maria Alvarez, a 17-year-old Colombian girl. The movie begins with her working in a flower plantation, where she works in conditions similar to a sweatshop to support her sister and mother. The cinematography is rough and makes the inhumane conditions simultaneously more real and unreal.

She soon becomes impregnated and, after unjust treatment from her boss, Maria quits her job, much to her family’s disapproval. While traveling to Bogota to search for a new job, she is invited to become a drug mule and is ultimately roped into doing it. The trip for Maria and two other drug mules is the main action of the film, and is a horrifying and personal look into drug trafficking.

—Candice Bautista, Editor


Director Phil Morrison’s “Junebug” is the prototype of the classic fish-out-of-water story, but the film manages to be much more than that. Chicago art dealer Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) travels to North Carolina in order to find a reclusive painter known for mixing zombies, genitals and Civil War battlefields in his paintings. More importantly, this trip brings her into contact with the family of her new husband George (Alessandro Nivola). The family initially reacts coolly to Madeleine, save for George’s sister-in-law Ashley (Amy Adams), who is absolutely entranced by Madeline’s cosmopolitan nature. When Ashley finds out Madeline was born in Japan, her eyes nearly pop out of her head.

While “Junebug” could easily submerge itself in an array of Southern stereotypes, the film chooses instead to intelligently investigate the dynamic that develops between Madeleine and her new family. Adams is easily the film’s standout, imbuing her character with a lightheartedness that has a real fragility beneath it, but the cast is uniformly excellent. Most importantly, everyone involved with “Junebug” clearly knows that families are living, breathing organisms, not the tired, cliched things you see in your typical Hollywood movie.

—Sean Fabery, Editor