A light in the darkness: ‘Full of Grace’ review

Sarah Wandor
Film Critic

Since the Blessed Mother’s birthday was Wednesday, I thought it would be fitting to do a review on a movie about her. “Full of Grace” (2015) follows Mary the Mother of God in her last days on earth and St. Peter who comes to her with a great burden on his shoulders. He is deeply troubled with disputes and falsities arising within the early Church and everyone looking to him to do something. Mary notices this and seeks to help and comfort him by sharing her wisdom with him.

This warm, beautiful and peaceful film is not only breathtaking, but it also reflects the person it portrays. The music, the scenery, the atmosphere: it is all very simple and peaceful. It carries a longing and a joy with it that Our Lady has and seems to mirror her own feelings.

The film is also very relatable in showing Peter’s struggles with people misleading the Church and how he should handle it. It shows his human side and what it could have been like to have the weight of the Church on your shoulders and everyone looking to you.

Most of the time, Peter is put on a pedestal by the Church and seen as more than human. Yet in “Full of Grace,” he is struggling just like many people. Because of this, the audience is able to put themselves in his shoes to the point that when Mary speaks to him, it is as if she is speaking to the heart of the viewer.

Peter’s doubt is a little different from the Church’s doubt at times, but it is not done in the typical overly dramatic and cliché manner. It is simple and deep, which only serves to touch people’s hearts more fully as they connect and resonate with what he says and the feelings he portrays.

This portrayal gives the film more depth and feeling, and it gives more weight and meaning to Mary’s words. The writer thoughtfully wrote them with such a wisdom and grace that it is felt. Mary’s words are not meant to hold all of the answers, which is a common cliché, but they rather intend to help guide those who are in the darkness of doubt.

Bahia Haifi, the actress playing Mary, does an amazing job at breathing life into these words. They are spoken with a great deal of love and peace that radiates from her. Her love doesn’t feel forced, nor is it overly exaggerated to the point of falsity. It is simple and has an air of maturity that allows her words to resonate within not only Peter but the audience as well.

Haifi’s voice and the love and peace it carries allows the mind to cling to it and hang on every word. Haifi inspires such a response by her performance, and she brings to life the Mother of God in one of the most stunning ways I have ever seen. Her love and care are genuine; it can be seen in her eyes, and that speaks of true talent for an actor.

It has been some time since I have found a film, a faith-based one especially, in which I was able to immerse myself. “Full of Grace” held my attention from the beginning to the end. It carries a peace and simple joy that spreads to whomever watches it. It brings light to a soul trapped in the darkness and offers a comforting embrace of love that only a mother could give.

I dislike most faith-based films, yet this one I am happy to say I hold in the highest esteem. It is a beautiful and breathtaking reflection of Mary the Mother of God, and her embrace can be felt through every word she speaks.