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Frozen River (2008)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 127
Fresh: 111 | Rotten: 16

Veteran character actress Melissa Leo delivers a stunning performance in this powerful -- if grim -- indie film.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 3

Veteran character actress Melissa Leo delivers a stunning performance in this powerful -- if grim -- indie film.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 85,596

My Rating

Movie Info

Frozen River is the story of Ray Eddy, an upstate New York trailer mom who is lured into the world of illegal immigrant smuggling when she meets a Mohawk girl who lives on a reservation that straddles the U.S.-Canadian border. Broke after her husband takes off with the down payment for their new doublewide, Ray reluctantly teams up with Lila, a smuggler, and the two begin making runs across the frozen St. Lawrence River carrying illegal Chinese and Pakistani immigrants in the trunk of Ray's



Courtney Hunt

Feb 10, 2009


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All Critics (128) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (111) | Rotten (16) | DVD (9)

Occasionally marred by contrivance and a crude internal logic that doesn't bear close scrutiny, 'Frozen River' works best as a knuckle-gnawing, blue-collar genre thriller.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Frozen River let me forget I was watching a movie, something that didn't happen often in 2008.

February 10, 2009 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are moments of poetry on display.

September 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It moves and it heals, finding hints of redemption in the jagged face of life.

August 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The miracle of filmmaker Courtney Hunt's tense, carefully understated debut is that it is made better by its few flights of fancy.

August 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Frozen River isn't just a good movie made by a woman; it's a good movie on anyone's terms, one of the year's best. To find hope beneath this ice, in this ugly terrain, is to dream big.

August 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A pair of border-town losers come to represent everyone who's ever been up against it in this country, especially the women.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Melissa Leo's Oscar-nominated performance as a mother not above illegal business, but resolutely clinging to honesty and not giving into hypocrisy, is terrific. Hope comes from hard sacrifice in a finale proving sometimes possessions are our blessings.

September 24, 2010 Full Review Source:

Hunt's weakness for contrivance and underlined points threaten to elbow out her sensitivity

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Courtney Hunt's low-budget blue-collar thriller, Frozen River, is one of the most impressive feature debuts of the past several years.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Actress Melissa Leo rightly earned an Oscar nomination for her part in this downbeat drama.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Frozen River is a taut, suspenseful thriller; a troubling of borders both cultural and national; and testament to the virtues of communion, empathy and compassion.

July 17, 2009
Little White Lies

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

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Leo and Upham give performances of great conviction and the film is bold and uncliched: especially the matter-of-fact treatment of guns.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian

It's Leo, with her pained and battered magnetism - half-pleading, half screw-you - who shakes the film out of its occasional glibness, notching up the performance of her career in thrilling, hungry style.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Everything about the film looks and feels authentic, from the desolate landscape dotted with trailers and fast-food joints to the people who populate a borderland that offers none of them much hope.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

A fascinating, understated look at the human condition.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

Cold yet never calculating, it's a fine film featuring a heart-rendingly knockout performance of steel and strength from Leo.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

Leo and Upham make an unlikely double act in a finely written, well-played film with a striking plot and setting. Hunt's clearly a name to watch; Leo, meanwhile, can look forward to finally getting the recognition, and roles, she deserves.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

As a quiet celebration of ordinary women's resourcefulness, the film is well-crafted, sensitively acted and modestly affecting.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

While there is much to admire, there is little to enjoy as downtrodden folk try to make money the hard way. At heart it is a sentimental drama that rarely connects.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Mirror [UK]
Sunday Mirror [UK]

Frozen River will penetrate your core like a biting Arctic wind.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

Early scenes have a raddled power. Later ones slip into a Chistmastide slush of contrivance and redemption.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

A modest but thrilling drama.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Independent

Frozen River represents one of the best examples of the new trend for austerity and social realism in American indie cinema.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Audience Reviews for Frozen River

I can't say exactly why this film so affected me, but it did. It was almost too real, viciously shot, plain and "boring" and heart-breaking enough that it could've been a Canadian film. Melissa Leo is believable, and from the opening shot - her smoking and crying in the car with the door hanging open, snow all around - you're hooked. Made me think of some of the bleaker films I've ever seen, and this one's just not uplifting in any way. A great, realistic story about the lengths people will go to for their children and their way of life, scrappy and well worth watching; strong, minimalist film-making that proves the budget isn't everything.
June 27, 2011

Super Reviewer

Morose tale of monstrous behavior among the desperate is ably but not expertly assembled. Leo's fearless performance is what stops Frozen from not melting into mediocrity.
February 6, 2010
The Gandiman
Tony Gandía

Super Reviewer

An absorbing although bleak story concerning a desperate single mom struggling to make it after her husband deserts her and their two kids. In order to pay the bills she stumbles upon an opportunity to smuggle people in from Canada to the United States, where a frozen river means no border police and limited attention. This film wouldn't be nearly as good without Melissa Leo's extraordinary quietly intense portrayal of a woman whose world is collapsing and desperation is rearing its ugly head. It's never fun to watch and there is one little flaw with the story telling, but for the most part this is gripping stuff that doesn't for one minute feel artificial or that the actors in the film are acting. Leo is just so good in this movie - her weathered face and tired reactions capture all the stress and hurt her character has gone through in her life so far.
January 23, 2010
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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