FROZEN RIVER // Having been acting since 1984, “Frozen River” marked Melissa Leo’s revival, bringing her an Oscar nomination and an a continued impressive career to follow. Bringing to life the white trash life style in New York, Ray’s (Melissa Leo) dreams of getting a new double-wide trailer with a jacuzzi tub are dashed when her gambling husband runs off with all their money. Suddenly thrown into the world of smuggling illegal immigrants to the U.S. by means of a Native American reservation, director Courtney Hunt brings this incredibly dark story to life, creating a tight-knit film that runs on necessity, and means to an end. Leo must provide for her two sons and with the double-wide hanging over their heads and a dead end part-time job, smuggling immigrants becomes a main source of living. Mirrored by co-star Misty Upham, as the Native American, Lila Littlewolf, who gets Ray involved in the racket, she is unable to be with her child, who was taken after her husband was killed. Together, they find a silent understanding that although this may be illegal, it gets them closer to providing for their families and therefore presents a silver lining. However, when strange factors begin to play, including a mysterious duffel bag that brings about some alarming drama and the arm of the law coming down in the form of a local sheriff, the thriller portion of the film takes full effect. Melissa Leo delivers an amazing performance and makes “Frozen River” a pleasure to watch.

[Directed by Courtney Hunt] [R] [97 min] [1 August 2008]    08four-stars

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