Frozen River

Set at the bleak border of the USA and Canada two women become unlikely accomplices sharing a common goal – that of keeping their families together in the face of poverty and hopelessness. The frozen river of the title refers to a vast lake in a Mohawk reserve that spans the US & Canadian border. Ray (Leo) unwittingly becomes involved in smuggling illegal immigrants into the US by Lila (Upham) a Mohawk.

Central to this film is an examination of the lengths the two female central characters will go to provide for their families. Faced with scratching an existence in minimum wage jobs in a remote isolated town both women are thrown into an uneasy partnership to provide for their families. The two lead actors – Leo and Upham, play their parts in a controlled and understated way, they both know they need each other but they don’t trust each other. They do what is necessary to survive.

There is a simplicity to the film the bleak landscapes, the deadly, dangerous expanse that is the frozen lake the miserable lives lead by these women which adds to the desperate need to provide their children with a better future. McDermott also needs a special mention as he plays a 15 year old with far too many burdens and worries.

It’s a really good film, I guess its also a film that would be difficult to ‘sell’ to a wider audience. I’m really pleased I watched it and would definitely recommend it – its not as oppressive as it may seem and ends up being strangely uplifting.

Directed by Courtney Hunt


Melissa Leo – Ray Eddy
Misty Upham – Lila Littlewolf
Charlie McDermott – Troy J ‘TJ’ Eddy
Michael O’Keefe – Trooper Finnerty

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Read more at: Nerve Curve

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