Takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. Here, the lure of fast money from smuggling ... See full summary »
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Robert Michael Kelly
Takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. Here, the lure of fast money from smuggling presents a daily challenge to single moms who would otherwise be earning minimum wage. Two women - one white, one Mohawk, both single mothers faced with desperate circumstances - are drawn into the world of border smuggling across the frozen water of the St. Lawrence River. Ray and Lila - and a New York State Trooper as opponent in an evolving cat-and-mouse game. Written by
Courtney Hunt brilliantly explores a rare genre: the humanistic thriller
Courtney Hunt's début feature, "Frozen River", winner of this year's Sundance's Grand Jury Prize, is as tense as a great thriller should be, and also a heartfelt, poignant drama.
Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo) was just abandoned by her druggie husband, having to take care of their two kids and pay for their house alone (otherwise, they'll be evicted). With her minimum wage job at a local store, Ray can't make enough money, but chance will introduce her to a young Mohawk, Lila (Misty Upham), who smuggles illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River (between New York State and Québec), and both will be forced to risk a lot in order to get the money they need.
Hunt's writing/directing is secure and reveals a very promising talent, but the film's major strength is the extraordinary performances of the lead actresses, in particular Melissa Leo ("21 Grams", "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada"), magnificent character actress turned lead. Totally deglamourized, her screen presence is real, visceral, almost organic. A flawless performance in a great film, that is at once sad, suspenseful and hopeful. It's not every movie that makes you feel for and really care for its characters, but "Frozen River" is one of those rare gems. 10/10.
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