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Frozen River (2008)

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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 »



Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 32 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Canoe ...
Bernie Littlewolf
Dylan Carusona ...
Michael Skye ...
Billy Three Rivers (as Michael Sky)
Pakistani Father
Azin Jahanbakhsh ...
Pakistani Dealer
Jack Phillips ...
James Phillips ...
Pakistani Baby


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 anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Desperation knows no borders.


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

5 September 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Río helado  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$70,234, 3 August 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,508,841, 15 March 2009

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,028,957, 31 December 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ray Eddy's name is spoken once. See more »


When crossing the river for the first time, the car drives down a ramp with trees to the side. Leaving the river at the other side of the crossing, the same trees are visible. See more »


Ray Eddy: I think we need to talk about this Troy... come on out. Troy?
[shoots gun]
Ray Eddy: ... I mean it Honey.
See more »


Featured in At the Movies: Episode #6.2 (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Courtney Hunt brilliantly explores a rare genre: the humanistic thriller
18 October 2008 | by See all my reviews

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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