March 25, 2009

Movie Review: Frozen River

I had no idea what ‘Frozen River’ was about. All I knew was that its lead actress and its screenplay had been nominated for Oscars. Solid credentials, even if it was never out in a theater within 100 miles of here. It’s had a Long Wait on Netflix since February, but we finally got our turn last weekend.

‘Frozen River’ is about a woman who lives in an up-up-upstate New York town that borders a Mohawk Indian Reservation and the Canadian border. To say she’s down and out might be an understatement. She’s a middle-aged woman with 2 kids, tattoos and a chain smoking habit, and a husband who’s recently run off to gamble away their savings – again (a problem because it’s almost Christmas, and there’s one final payment due before their new home – a doublewide trailer – is officially theirs). While searching for her AWOL husband, she stumbles upon a money-making opportunity: smuggling illegal immigrants across the border with the connections and help of a Mohawk woman with a mysterious past and questionable motives.

I have no real complaints about the movie. It’s the kind of quiet, deliberately paced movie that might make it seem like nothing is happening: The characters develop slowly, and it wasn’t until the end that I realized I understood them. The movie was definitely anchored around Melissa Leo’s character and she carried it well.

I’d certainly recommend it, if you're interested in a real, independent movie (As in: Produced totally independently, debuted at Sundance, released by a major studio. They’re harder to find these days than you’d think), or if you’re in the mood for a portrait of a family, a desperate mother (or 2) and the desolation of a rundown town.

7.25 Twix bars!