- Director:Courney Hunt
- Cast:Mark Boone Junior, Melissa Leo, Michael O'Keefe, Misty Upham
- Release Date:February 19, 2009
- Running time:97 minutes
- Film Worth:$13.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
“...a rare film.”
Frozen River is a rare film. The tale is familiar - of unlikely allegiances born of desperation - and the way that the dramatic landscape of a frozen frontier township becomes a character in this story has been seen before. What makes Frozen River so compelling is its rhythm: the moments of suspense don't shock and numb, but unfold in the relentless, inexorable way of life. The audience is credited with being able to fill the gaps in the story where exposition would feel intrusive. At the bottom of every character's actions is the unwavering and often irrational pull of family. The combined effect is an uncommon amount of empathy with these troubled folk.
The plot follows two women - each having been dealt their unfair share of hardship - and how their fates are forced to a head through their unlikely relationship. Ray (Oscar nominee Melissa Leo) is an emotionally bruised mother of two, desperately trying to keep her family together after her husband takes off. Lila (Misty Upham) is a widowed Mohawk, outcast from her people for her supposed role in the death of her husband. She pines for her infant son, who has been taken from her by her mother-in-law with tribal consent. When Lila brazenly steals Ray's car and Ray refuses to let it go, the women forge an uneasy alliance as Ray is drawn into the fast money of a scam cooked up by Lila.
While the resolution might seem a little neat for the film's naturalistic style, this is still independent filmmaking of the highest order. In particular, Charlie McDermott turns in a tour de force performance as TJ, the fifteen-year-old trying to be a man in his father's absence. His kind of understated intensity is exactly what sets this film apart.