17 year old Maria has to support her family with her work. However, she decide to quit her job, against her family wish, as she felt she didnt get any respect at her job. She also realise that she is pregnant. The teenager who is responsible, is ready to marry her, but Maria really doesn't have any love for him. She meets Franklin, who sets her up with drug traffickers, from Columbia to America, and is offered a great sum to work as a mule. She accepts this offer and meets Lucy who has already done it twice. When she is on her way, Maria realises that her friend, Blanca who is even younger than her, has also been lured by Franklin into this job. Pellets of heroine, are given to the mules who have to swallow it. Maria has about 66 of them in her stomache. She is promptly caught for check up, in the New York airport. She escapes the final X ray check, just because she was pregnant. Maria, Lucy and Blanca are collected by some guys who take them to a hotel room and wait for the girls to pass out all the pellets. Maria finds out at night, that Lucy is missing, and she prompts Blanca to escape from the hotel. They do not have any place to go and finally reach the flat of Lucy's sister. Maria is unable to confess the danger that has occured with Lucy. Soon she finds out that Lucy's body was found out, with her stomache cut open. When Lucy's sister finds this out, she evicts Maria and her friend out. Maria still manages to find the traffickers and hands over the pellets and collect her money. A part of which she uses to send Lucy's body back to Columbia. On their way back, at the check in counter Maria decides against going back to her country.
In spite of being slow paced, neo realistic kind, I would say Marai Ilena.. is a thrilling movie. From the moment Maria is lured by the drug traffickers, we feel tensed, may be more than Maria herself, and feels for her. That is the real success of this movie. Luckily for Maria, she is not hurt, and decides against going back to Columbia - as this would mean she will have to work as a mule again until she is caught or is killed like Lucy - but this does not happen without taking us through a lot of nervous moments. The scene where she swallows the pellets, the moments inside the flight including the one inside the toilet, the one with the customs officials in the airport and all are brilliantly shot that we can feel the tension so much to make ourselves feel nervous. Simple but brilliant, that is what I would say.
A very interesting aspect of the film, unlike other similar movies on drug trafficking, is that except when Maria is questioned in the airport, we do not come across any men in uniform at all. That was a great idea, and that makes this movie completely different too. The whole drama is built around the mental state of Maria. Brilliant.
It also made me think about some politics around the South and North, which I am afraid is not appropriate to discuss here.