After more than 20 years of acting, Melissa Leo finally is getting the chance to carry a film. Read more
Archive for July, 2008
In writer-director Courtney Hunt’s first feature, “Frozen River,” the two lead characters–both women–begin as rivals who, as mothers, are fighting for food, if you will, with which to feed their needy young. However, as they struggle to succeed, they realize their interests are actually mutual, and they form a bond as sisters. Read more
Under the banner of “community outreach,” Boston-based AWFJ member Jenny Halper screened “Frozen River” for her students at Emerson College’s Young Writers Program, then assigned them to review the film. Read more
“Frozen River” is a bit of a miracle itself: a small movie with hugely moving performances, one with a vivid sense of place that’s never pretentious in its indie aesthetic. Read more>>
Melissa Leo’s performance is deeply moving, and very deserving of all the Oscar-possibility buzz swirling around her, but I also have to give some props to Hunt for an amazingly solid, assured directorial debut. Read more>>
It’s rare to see a film that sets up a world both extremely recognizable and rarely seen, and rarer still when it turns out to ask moral questions without preaching. In her debut feature Frozen River, Courtney Hunt creates a story that serves simultaneously as a thriller and an insightful examination of the line between morality and necessity Read more
The independent film “Frozen River” offers the emotional resonance of a finely crafted drama, the bristling tension of a perfectly paced thriller, and Melissa Leo’s effortlessly Oscar-worthy performance in her first lead role. Read more>>
After two decades as a working actress, Melissa Leo finally gets to play the lead role in the harrowing dramatic thriller “Frozen River.” Read more>>
The deserved winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Courtney Hunt’s “Frozen River” tells the story of two desperately poor women–one Caucasian, one Mohawk–in dreary upstate New York who form an uneasy alliance to smuggle illegal immigrants across the frozen, yet treacherous St. Lawrence River that separates Canada from the United States.
Just before Christmas, Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo) realizes her gambling husband has run off with all the money she was saving to buy a new double-wide trailer. Abandoned with only a part-time job at the Yankee Dollar Store, she’s destitute. Her squalid trailer is falling apart, her kids (Charlie McDermott, James Reilly) have only popcorn and Tang for dinner, and there’s nothing for holiday presents. So when she spies her husband’s car at a bingo parlor on the barren Mohawk reservation, Ray follows the woman who stole it. It’s Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham), a single mother who is trying to regain custody of her child by using the Dodge Spirit - with its pop-up trunk - to smuggle aliens from China and Pakistan. While neither woman truly trusts the other, their mutual struggle forms a bond of shared economic need. Racism is endemic with the border police, so a white woman driving is much less likely to be questioned than a Native American. Yet it’s a dangerous decision for both.
Writer/director Courtney Hunt creates a completely believable, wintry world that’s filled with suspicion and extreme anxiety, eliciting gritty, grounded performances from her entire cast, particularly Melissa Leo (”21 Grams”), who should certainly be on the short list for Oscar consideration. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Frozen River” is a compelling 9, as a compassionate, cross-cultural chronicle of humanity besieged by hard times.
Darryl Roberts, who comes to documentaries from music videos, commercials and narrative features, is an excellent researcher and storyteller. The elements he’s compiled in “America The Beautiful” add up to a powerful statement about issues that plague American women, causing them to endanger their health, go into debt and neglect the talents that make them unique and whole people. Read more>>