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February 2009

by Kam Williams

Frozen River (DVD REVIEW)

Cast: Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott, Michael O'Keefe, Mark Boone Junior
Director: Courtney Hunt
Writer: Courtney Hunt
Producers: Alfonso Trinidad, Charles S. Cohen, Chip Hourihan, Craig Shilowich, Donald Harwood
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: French
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 1
Rating: R
Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD Release Date: February 10, 2009
Run Time: 97 minutes
DVD Extras: Commentary by director Courtney Hunt and producer Heather Rae.


Struggling Single-Moms Bond in Gritty Female Empowerment Flick

Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo) has just been abandoned again by her worthless husband who has both a gambling and substance abuse problem. So, the struggling mother of two has to support her five (James Reilly) and fifteen year-old (Charlie McDermoott) sons alone on the meager salary she makes working part-time at a dollar store.

This also means she’s suddenly in danger of losing the sizable down payment she’s already made on a new, double-wide mobile home. Consequently, the Eddy family is stuck in a relatively-tiny, drafty and dilapidaded trailer with water pipes prone to freezing. After all, this is a particularly-frigid Christmas season in upstate New York near the Canadian border.

While searching for her hubby at a local bingo hall, Ray finds his abandoned car and crosses paths with Lila (Misty Upham), a young Native-American woman in equally-desperate straits. Recently-widowed Lila has lost custody of her one year-old daughter and has turned to a life of crime to raise enough cash to get her baby back.

Taking advantage of the fact that she lives on a nearby Indian reservation which straddles the border between the United States and Canada, Lila has resorted to trafficking in human beings, for there is very good money waiting for anyone willing to risk their lives and jail by driving illegal aliens into the country across a frozen lake. That’s how Lila’s late husband died.

Even though they don’t trust one another, the two single-moms grudgingly bond and begin bringing Chinese and Pakistanis into America in the trunk of Ray’s car. However, the plot thickens as soon as the authorities catch wind of the operation and the question becomes whether the pair can make enough to retire before the ceiling falls in.

A gritty, super-realistic, female empowerment flick most memorable for Melissa Leo’s spellbinding, Oscar-nominated performance.