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Frozen River

Winner ~ Sundance Festival ~ Grand Jury Prize

As Ray Eddy, the heroine of the riveting melodrama Frozen River, a working-class mom in upstate New York trying to care for two sons after her husband skips out with the family savings, actress Melissa Leo sports a nose turned red from the winter cold; she is the female embodiment of harsh New York winters and the impoverished rural communities along the St. Lawrence River. But don't think for a second that Leo's unforgettable lead performance in Frozen River is purely a physical one; Leo shows a fiery passion to do right by her sons and emotional power bright enough for ten movie dramas. The artful trinity of Melissa Leo, co-star Misty Upham and director Courtney Hunt leads to independent moviemaking at its best, telling a real-life, off-the-grid story with compassion, skill and honesty. As Lila Littlewolf, a Mohawk woman who becomes Ray’s unexpected business partner, Upham is rock steady and strong-willed. The two women become colleagues, smuggling illegal immigrants via nighttime crossings across the frozen St. Lawrence River. By film’s end, their relationship becomes something far more substantial. Rural upstate New York is as much a character as Ray and Lila. Hunt and cinematographer Reed Dawson Morano do justice to the land's obvious poverty as well at its wintry beauty. Many of the film's best moments are its small ones: Ray digs through her pockets to pay for gas; she serves popcorn to her sons for dinner when money runs low. But Hunt adds heft to the drama by making Ray and Lila's nighttime drives across the icy St. Lawrence into thrilling scenes of worry. Their journey together, both off and on the frozen river, is melodrama at its grittiest, dealing with the heartaches of working poor families in a part of the country stripped of financial opportunities. For Leo, somewhat recognizable thanks to her years on the TV cop drama 'Homicide: Life On The Street' and the films 21 Grams and The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada, Hunt's incredible film offers her a chance to truly stand out and shine. In return, Leo makes Frozen River a movie that demands to be seen. – Steve Ramos, IndieWire
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Directed by: 
Courtney Hunt
Running Time: 
Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Michael O'Keefe
Screenplay by: 
Courtney Hunt

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