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Frozen River

2008 Drama

A desperate single mother living in upstate New York resorts to smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States as a means of making ends meet in first-time feature director/screenwriter Courtney Hunt's emotionally wrenching drama, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Feature at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Ray Eddy is in an impossible position; it's two days before Christmas and her husband has suddenly disappeared with all of the family savings. Now, as the newly single mother of two realizes the futility of attempting to cover the house payments on her meager Yankee One Dollar Store wages, her children are forced to exist on a nutritionally devoid diet of popcorn and Tang. Deciding that her only hope for survival is to find a man who will support her and her children, Ray sets out to find a husband but instead makes the acquaintance of street-smart Mohawk Lila Littlewolf. Lila, too, has been struggling to keep her head above water amidst economic despair, and has recently stumbled across a rather unconventional solution to her dire financial situation. Lately, Lila has been earning a living by smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S., but her tribal elders vehemently disapprove of the scheme and have recently attempted to stop it by forbidding the local auto dealers from selling her a car. As fate would have it, Ray's Dodge Spirit may just be the only thing the destitute mother can count on anymore, and as this unlikely pair gas up the tank for a daring dash across the iced-over St. Lawrence River, their fates become forever intertwined in ways that neither could have ever anticipated. more..

Director: Courtney Hunt

Starring: Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott, Mark Boone Jr., Michael O'Keefe

Reviews

  • As the summer heats up, let Frozen River wash over you; let its bracing drama and the intensity of its acting restore your spirits as well as your faith in American independent film.

    Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times

    26 April 2013

  • Sometimes two performances come along that are so perfectly matched that no overt signals are needed to show how the characters feel about each other. That's what happens between Melissa Leo and Misty Upham in Frozen River.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    26 April 2013

  • A tale of ordinary Americans scraping bottom, yet there's a redemption in that. The film asks: If you were this desperate, wouldn't you do the same?

    Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly

    26 April 2013

  • This is a debut feature, though you'd never know it from the filmmaker's commandingly confident style, or from the heartbreaking beauty -- heartbreaking, then heartmending -- of Melissa Leo's performance as a poor single mother who's living her whole life on thin ice.

    Joe Morgenstern - The Wall Street Journal

    26 April 2013

  • A Sundance hit that is both absorbing and bleak, Frozen River is anchored by powerful performances, believable scenarios and excellent writing.

    Claudia Puig - USA Today

    26 April 2013

Awards

  • Movie of the Year

    AFI Awards (2009)

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

    Academy Awards (2009)

     
  • Best Supporting Actress

    American Indian Film Festival (2008)

  • Best Actress

    Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards (2009)

     
  • Best Actress

    Central Ohio Film Critics Association (2009)