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Frozen River (2008)

Cast: Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott, more...
Director: Courtney Hunt
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Rating:
Studio: Sony Pictures
Genre: Drama, Independent, Politics and Social Issues, Dysfunctional Families, Weepies
Running Time: 93 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: French
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Recently Rented By trinity7


Synopsis
A desperate single mother living in upstate New York resorts to smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States as a means of making ends meet in first-time feature director/screenwriter Courtney Hunt's emotionally wrenching drama, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Feature at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Ray Eddy is in an impossible position; it's two days before Christmas and her husband has suddenly disappeared with all of the family savings. Now, as the newly single mother of two realizes the futility of attempting to cover the house payments on her meager Yankee One Dollar Store wages, her children are forced to exist on a nutritionally devoid diet of popcorn and Tang. Deciding that her only hope for survival is to find a man who will support her and her children, Ray sets out to find a husband but instead makes the acquaintance of street-smart Mohawk Lila Littlewolf. Lila, too, has been struggling to keep her head above water amidst economic despair, and has recently stumbled across a rather unconventional solution to her dire financial situation. Lately, Lila has been earning a living by smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S., but her tribal elders vehemently disapprove of the scheme and have recently attempted to stop it by forbidding the local auto dealers from selling her a car. As fate would have it, Ray's Dodge Spirit may just be the only thing the destitute mother can count on anymore, and as this unlikely pair gas up the tank for a daring dash across the iced-over St. Lawrence River, their fates become forever intertwined in ways that neither could have ever anticipated. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide




"When I heard that Quentin Tarantino handed the Grand Jury Prize for best feature to Courtney Hunt's Frozen River at this year's Sundance Film Festival, telling the audience that the movie 'put my heart in a vise and proceeded to twist that vise until the last frame,' my jaw went slack," recalls Ella Taylor in the Voice. "But Tarantino was raised by his mom, and if there's one thing this movie gets dead right, it's the desperation of impoverished single mothers trying to fend for their children. And if Frozen River finally gets the terrific actress Melissa Leo her place in the sun to boot, so much the better."

Greencine talks with Hunt about the immigrant smuggling we rarely hear anything about: crossing the US-Canadian border...>>>

GreenCine Member Reviews

Amazing Film about Life on the Border by jmwagner66 January 27, 2012 - 5:45 PM PST
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The border of the Mohawk Reservation, with Canada and the US (hence the smuggling). The border of homelessness. The border of motherhood. People are desperate and trying not so much to improve their lives, as to keep from losing ground. Very little separates these folks from that "rock bottom" we hear so much about but those of in the middle class rarely experience. One woman chases her husband to another woman's house. The women end up working together to try to undo the damage that the men in their lives have done. The ending isn't "happy" by Hollywood standards, but knowing people in these situations, it ain't that bad.

Cinematically this is gorgeous. The views of the great white north. The frozen river across which people drive at their own peril. The gritty scenes of life near the bottom of the social ladder. It's all beautiful and treacherous so double beautiful.

The directing was done with a light touch. Living in a town with similar activities and similar family relationships, I was waiting for the big bloody beating in front of the bar. I didn't get it. I got more. The daily agony and struggle and striving for human dignity of the chronically poor.




GreenCine Member Rating
12345678910

(Average 7.95)
21 Votes
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Craig's Best of 2008.
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These were on my best of 2008 list; year featured lots of good films even if few clear masterpieces. These are all the ones available on DVD; will add as more arrive.
underdog

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