Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Colombia/USA/Ecuador, 2004. HBO Films, Fine Line Features, Journeyman Pictures, Proyecto Tucan, Alter-Ciné, Santa Fe Productions. Screenplay by Joshua Marston. Cinematography by Jim Denault. Produced by Paul Mezey. Music by Leonardo Heiblum, Jacobo Lieberman. Production Design by Debbie DeVilla, Monica Marulanda. Costume Design by Sarah Beers, Lauren Press. Film Editing by Anne McCabe, Lee Percy. Academy Awards 2004. AFI Awards 2004. Independent Spirit Awards 2004. National Board of Review Awards 2004. New York Film Critics Awards 2004. Washington Film Critics Awards 2004.
To watch this skillfully made drama about the drug trade in Colombia, you would assume it was made by an experienced filmmaker who has lived in that country his whole life, but it’s actually the first feature by a young American from California. Catalina Sandino Moreno is fantastic as a girl who works at a flower factory in Colombia but quits when she gets tired of the degrading way in which she and her fellow employees are treated. In need of a job, she agrees to be a drug mule, to transport vast quantities of heroin from Bogota to New York City, swallowing pellets of the stuff and keeping it in her stomach until delivery. The journey she goes on to make a living is harrowing, compelling and incredibly frightening, with director Joshua Marston doing a terrific job of never showing too much and always keeping the action focused on the characters.