Reviewed by: The Film Snob
Synopsis: Ray (Melissa Leo) tries to provide for her family by smuggling illegal aliens across the Canadian border. She teams with a member of the Mohawk tribe, Lila (Misty Upham), as they put themselves in danger to earn some cash.
Review: This is a good movie and I’ll tell you why–in real life I would HATE these people, yet within the context of this movie I care what happens to them. The main character, Ray (a mother of two), decides that she is going to start smuggling illegal immigrants into the country in the trunk of her car–and why does she do this? So she can buy her family a double wide trailer. She is currently living with her two sons in a trailer as it is–and she is trying to upgrade to a bigger trailer with better insulation–so she’s working for something, but is moving to a better trailer really worth committing a felony? Risking your life? One of the movie’s most climatic is when Ray smuggles some illegals across the border, then gets home just in time to stop the repo men from taking her tv. This tv she purchased was on a rent-to-own plan and the set is about half the width of her entire trailer. This woman can’t afford dinner for her family (they eat popcorn and drink orange soda), yet she wants to commit to prolonged payments for a large, flat screen television? In real life this woman is too dumb to live, in the cinema I am rooting for her all the way. Why is this? I have no idea. I can’t put my finger on it–it’s not just that she is the main character–there is something more that intrigues me. Maybe it’s just that she’s so repulsive and so white trash that I sympathize with her? Nobody should have to be that ugly, that trashy, and that poor–and when I mean ugly, I mean don’t watch this on Blue-Ray, watch it with the worst quality imaginable, you’ll thank me later.
Or maybe the reason I rooted for Ray and her family was the performance of Melissa Leo. She came out of nowhere to be nominated for an Oscar along with Marryl Streep, Ann Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, and Kate Winslet–that’s some fine company. Just being nominated in a class like that is phenomenal–being nominated is equivalent to winning for someone like Kate Winslet I would think–the Academy rarely seems to just pluck a lead actress nominee out of relatively nowhere–the nominees usually come from bigger, better publicized movies–so this is really an honor.
Recommendation: Frozen River gained a lot of momentum at the Independent Spirit Awards, where it was nominated for best picture. If you usually go for that sort of thing then this movie will not disappoint. If you like hardy laughs or big explosions from your movie then stay away at all cost–and please don’t talk to me–I won’t like you. It’s the sort of story that is not typically told, it’s not a sexy story–but it is a story–and it’s told in a nice fashion–plus it’s only 90 minutes–gotta love that they didn’t drag it out. I recommend.