Frozen River


Top 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2008 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charile McDermott, Michael O'Keefe, Mark Boone Jr.

Non-Cast Credits

Courtney Hunt, Charles S. Cohen, Donald Harwood, Heather Rae, Chip Hourihan, Reed Dawson Morano, Kate Willams, Inbal Weinberg, Peter Golub, Shahzad Ali Ismaily


Two days before Christmas in rural upstate New York, Ray Eddys husband has left her in an impossible situationnot only is he gone, but he has gambled away all of the familys meager savings. Rays single wage at the Yankee One Dollar Store cant make the house payment, and the situation forces Ray to feed her two sons popcorn and Tang everyday. When Ray strikes out to search for her husband, she encounters Lila Littlewolf, a tough, street-smart Mohawk woman who is dealing with her own struggle to make ends meet. But Lila has found a way to do itsmuggling illegal immigrants into the States. The tribal elders disapprove and attempt to stop Lila by forbidding anyone to sell her a car. Ray has a car, and although the two women dont trust each other, they team up and share Rays Dodge Spirit to make a run across the frozen St. Lawrence River.

Courtney Hunts remarkable and deeply emotional first feature is a realistic look at the world of human smuggling and the difficult choices facing poor, single mothers. A wonderfully directed film full of atmosphere, heart, and outstanding performances by Melissa Leo and Misty Upham, Frozen River is ultimately about the strength that resides in family and the way hope in a dire situation can be uncovered by courage and trust.


Shari Frilot (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

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