Have you ever watched a really good movie that you never wanted to see again? There are a lot of movies that I’d put on this list, and it’s usually because the movie made me experience an emotion I wasn’t anxious to feel again. This is how I felt after screening Frozen River.
The film, winner of the Grand Jury Prize this year at Sundance, tells the story of two downtrodden women who out of desperation and desolation resort to smuggling Chinese and Pakistani immigrants across the Canada-United States border by way of the St. Lawrence River. Ray, played by veteran actress Melissa Leo, is 40-year old White American raising two sons in a trailer not big enough to house the frustration and disappointment felt by Ray, avoided by her estranged gambling-addicted husband, absorbed by her teenage son, and affecting her still innocent 5 year old. With her sights set on a double wide trailer and having been recently robbed by her now absent husband, Ray pairs with an equally despondent Native American woman, Lila, a well known smuggler in the cold country where the two reside.
First rivals then reluctant partners, the two begin the business of smuggling to the end of Lila being able to get her son back from her mother-in-law who, according to Lila, stole him at his birth and Ray buying a bigger home for her family.
The acting is superb, and Melissa Leo is undeniable as the failing Ray. Likewise Misty Upham, as Mohawk born Lila, creates a character both cunning and childlike. They story, though often told, is well told. I’m not racing to the box office to see women suffering from socio-economic hardship, but if you’re looking for a movie that will satisfy the part of you dying to see a movie that is more than a vehicle for star promotion and product placement, they you’ll be spending your time well viewing Frozen River.
For movie info and listings, visit: Sony Classics.