17 May 2008 | mike_caccioppoli
Independent film-making at its best
The town where Frozen River takes place is Massena, New York, a few miles from the Canadian border in the middle of a Mohawk reservation, and in the winter it's every bit as cold and grey as the film depicts. This is one of those films that depicts a slice of life that most of us aren't privy too and it seems to know its subject inside and out.
Frozen River is independent film-making at its best, both vital and timely. Writer/Director Courtney Hunt shows how otherwise law abiding people can be driven to do some shady things when there are no other options. While there may still be a great divide between Natives and non-Natives, the film depicts how economic hardship has no boundaries and in fact unites us. As Lila and Ray make those dangerous trips across the border with state troopers lurking all around them, Hunt pays considerable attention to the small details of human smuggling, and the result is a constant state of dread as if anything can go awry at any time. Leo is absolutely brilliant as Ray, and Upham (raised in Seattle) is a pure revelation as Lila. Frozen River shines a light on a dark corner of our nation, one that is an unfortunate result of a useless immigration policy and a failing economy.