Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Melissa Leo
Misty Upham
Charlie McDermott
Michael O'Keefe.
Directors
Courtney Hunt.
Screenwriters
Courtney Hunt.
Running Time
97 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Frozen River
Oscar-nominated anti-chick flick


submit to reddit


Plot
After her husband runs off with her savings, Ray Eddy (Leo) and her kids are destitute. Ray unwittingly finds herself in partnership with Mohawk Lila Littlewolf (Upham) as a people smuggler, driving illegal aliens across an iced-over St. Lawrence River bordering Quebec and New York State.


Review
Frozen River
Desperate women driven to do crazy shit: you gotta love ’em! Oscar nominations (Best Actress and Original Screenplay) and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for this debut from writer-director Courtney Hunt indicate the quality of work. Without sounding one false note, the film transcends chick flick, melodrama and thriller (though it has fine elements of those) for a compelling, humane drama. The plot particulars may hinge on a very specific locale, but the theme has global resonance.

If the immigrants who climb into the boot of Ray’s (Melissa Leo) car knew how she and her neighbours on the Mohawk Reservation straddling the Canadian-US border live, they would have thought harder before indebting themselves to the thugs who dump them and roughly collect them
on both sides of their journey. Welcome to America! Ray, who doesn’t understand what she’s gotten herself into, and Misty Upham’s Lila, a young widow whose risky business is undertaken to reclaim the baby taken away from her, do not bond in any typical gal-pal sense. They meet at gunpoint when Lila boosts Ray’s car, and stick together out of need. Their conversations are terse. They both come across as cold and unfeeling. And yet the actresses strike a remarkable balance together, and with raw, naked expressiveness emerge sympathetically, even heroically, as beleaguered women who can’t afford to sit around being victims.

Ray’s small American Dream is hardly greedy or delusional. She just wants to get herself and her kids out of their old trailer (a metal shack with a rented TV) and swap it for a new “double wide” version barely distinguishable from a cargo container. She’s hard-working, but can only get part-time shifts at the Yankee One Dollar store. And she’s insistent that her teenager, T. J. (Charlie McDermott), stay in school. In the current economic climate, Ray’s dilemma reverberates with anxieties people all over can relate to. She’s in the fight of her life just to survive. Victory means taking the children out for a burger instead of feeding them popcorn for breakfast and dinner.

Leo is magnificent and Hunt keeps it tightly focussed and real. Every detail rings true, and there’s even beauty, particularly in the nerve-wracking trips across the ice.


Verdict
Original, sad, suspenseful and involving: the kind of work that helps independent American cinema retain its good name.


Reviewed by Angie Errigo

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Frozen River
Empire Star Rating

Wonderful

This is a very sad story. Making it all the more beautiful in a delicate sort of way. Hunt's understated, subtle direction provides an involving realism to the movie that creates a tense atmosphere. All this adds up to make one hell of an exciting picture, but not necassarily in a "bang bang" way but more in an emotionally drenching way. Wonderful stuff. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by krisjcummins at 00:33, 14 April 2010 | Report This Post


You might want to have fun at the movies but you have to realise that this is a film that is trying to get a message across. Showing that the world isn't as glamerous and great as most mainstream seems to represent it. And for that, this is one of the most powerful and interesting films i have seen in a long time. A great real life drama! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by plum bob at 18:44, 06 December 2009 | Report This Post


Ah, Angie...

You seem to have a soft spot for worthy, miserable, depressing films. I know misery exists and I spend my life making sure my family hasn't (so far) ended up in it. Even then, there's enough sadness in everyday life, without having to go and pay money to see made up stuff to bring me down. I do hope you have fun at the movies too sometimes! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 10:16, 19 July 2009 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

The 15 Most Memorable Character Deaths Of The Year
2014’s RIP honour roll

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)