Frozen River - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Frozen River Reviews

Page 1 of 92
December 29, 2016
For a really low budget indie, this is surprisingly well made. The video cinematography is a bit rough, but fits the story ok. Without Melissa Leo, this film would probably have fallen apart. She really gives a strong performance.
December 4, 2016
Frozen River is a raw and visceral indie drama that succeeds largely thanks to Melissa Leo's absorbing lead performance.
½ March 26, 2016
Leo is brilliant in this powerfully tense drama.
½ February 13, 2016
Subtle, understated... takes you to another world. Great movie.
January 1, 2016
I liked the film. I'm always a little skeptical about these indie films, but I remember Melissa Leo getting a lot of accolades and she was truly worthy of them. The movie was surprisingly interesting -- dealing with a Native American woman who in her "spare" time, smuggled people illegally from the Canadian border and thru the reservation. Great performance by Melissa Leo and Misty Upham (may she rest in peace) was OK as well. Very real, gritty at times and also sad at times.
½ December 1, 2015
A solid little drama.
½ October 3, 2015
At first I was thinking that this was yet another movie about a person struggling to support her family. The harsh climate reflects her situation yadayada. I almost turned it off but the whole smuggling angle really peaked my interest. Really good movie. Kinda predicable though.
September 8, 2015
A grim, insightful look at a world that's rarely seen and rather poetic at times.
May 18, 2015
a real star-turning performance from Melissa Leo
a single mother of two goes to the extreme to make ends meet
all of it involves easy money but also transporting illegal immigrants across the border
children have to have a chance at living and Ray makes a humongous sacrifice just to have that come true
the movie seems pretty life-like because trafficking is still as real an issue today
there's a lot of money to be made from it sadly
for Ray the 'frozen river' is what stands between her and finding redemption for herself in the most unorthodox way
March 20, 2015
This movie is right on the edge of "love" territory, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and give it four stars.

This is a film style I really like. It's kind of low-key, indie crime, almost noirish, like Brick or The Lookout. It's the kind of movie that isn't gonna win a ton of Oscars (I was actually surprised to learn that this was nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Actress, though both deserve it). It's just a small story that feels all the more realistic because of how small it is.

First of all, there's Melissa Leo, who I haven't seen in anything until now, but she's wonderful. I'm really into characters/actresses like Ray/Leo, because they're not huge performances that are super into theatrics and dramatics. I wouldn't normally expect the Oscars to nominate actresses like this, because the Academy is usually into big transformations or historical depictions, but between Melissa Leo in 2014 and Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night this year, it seems like they recognize them sometimes. Anyways, Ray is a great character, very understated, and you can sense that she's just desperately trying to keep everything together. There are cathartic scenes, though, too, like the marvelous one when she and TJ (played by Charlie McDermott, who I was thrilled to see after loving him in The Middle) get into a fight. There's one moment that's so beautiful, probably my favorite in the movie: when TJ basically admits that he knows his father is a horrible father. It's so powerful because he's been taking it all out on his mother throughout the movie, frustrated with her and wishing she could somehow take his father's place, but in that moment, he shows that he's not ignorant or idolizing his father. He resents him, too, and it culminates in a heartbreaking hug between he and his mother.

Then there are the thriller elements of the movie, which are also great. There are some super, super tense scenes, and the whole climax when the police are chasing them is thrilling. I love the ending, too; at first I thought it would end with Ray sacrificing her relationship with Lila and sticking with her kids, which is a morally gray area to begin with considering it's hard to argue that she'd be selfish for taking care of her kids instead of this random woman she just met. But then it ends even better, with her sacrificing four months with her kids to save a lifelong relationship between Lila and her child. It's a beautiful display of sacrifice and selflessness, and the movie ends on a refreshing hopeful note.
½ March 4, 2015
Driven by Leo's performance and the nice portrayal of its cinematography while being under a small standard of quality, this crime drama offers a new experience of the genre that "drags" the viewer to the scene. (B)

(Full review coming soon - with better wording probably)
January 7, 2015
"What if a trooper stops us? -They're not gonna stop you, you're white."

Frozen River made a lot of noise in 2008 after debuting in the Sundance Film Festival and winning the Grand Jury Prize. It went on to win many other awards and even received two Academy Award nominations for best lead performance from Melissa Leo and for original screenplay written by Courtney Hunt who also directed this grim indie film. It is an impressive debut film considering the subject matter usually doesn't attract much attention. The story centers on a mother who's left with the task of raising her to children on her own after her husband has abandoned them ten days before Christmas. He took off with the money that her wife had been saving. It takes place in Massena, New York, near the Canadian border where a Mohawk reservation exists. She meets a Mohawk named Lila and circumstances lead her to smuggle illegal immigrants across a frozen river in order to sustain her family. Frozen River is a character study of a hard willed woman who is determined to do what it takes to provide for her children. It can be a challenging watch for the audience, but Melissa Leo's authentic performance makes it an engaging one. There are very few films that center around strong female characters, and Courtney Hunt has directed and written a powerful one. This film reminds me a lot of Winter Bone (which came out a couple of years later) which also benefited from a strong female performance. It is a tale of endurance and focuses on the American underclass that very seldom is portrayed on film in an authentic manner. I enjoyed this film so much that I'm actually looking forward to Hunt's next film (The Whole Truth) which will be released this year.

Melissa Leo deservedly received an Oscar nod for her performance and I think this was the perfect role for her. She has this authentic look and is credible as a single mother who is willing to do what it takes to get out of her current situation. Her chemistry with Misty Upham is what makes this film standout. Upham is also given a strong female character to play and she delivers a strong performance. She and Leo's character both are going through difficult moments in their lives struggling with poverty. They are matched together by the circumstances they are facing despite their differences and that relationship is the heart of the film. The kids played by Charlie McDermott and James Reilly are both solid, but the female characters are the heart and soul of this film. The scenery also plays a huge role in this film considering the harsh and freezing conditions are transmitted to the characters in the story. They struggle and battle with the adversities presented in their lives with fearless strength. It is a small gritty indie drama that is worth checking out, especially if you were a fan of Winter's Bone.
January 7, 2015
"What if a trooper stops us? -They're not gonna stop you, you're white."

Frozen River made a lot of noise in 2008 after debuting in the Sundance Film Festival and winning the Grand Jury Prize. It went on to win many other awards and even received two Academy Award nominations for best lead performance from Melissa Leo and for original screenplay written by Courtney Hunt who also directed this grim indie film. It is an impressive debut film considering the subject matter usually doesn't attract much attention. The story centers on a mother who's left with the task of raising her to children on her own after her husband has abandoned them ten days before Christmas. He took off with the money that her wife had been saving. It takes place in Massena, New York, near the Canadian border where a Mohawk reservation exists. She meets a Mohawk named Lila and circumstances lead her to smuggle illegal immigrants across a frozen river in order to sustain her family. Frozen River is a character study of a hard willed woman who is determined to do what it takes to provide for her children. It can be a challenging watch for the audience, but Melissa Leo's authentic performance makes it an engaging one. There are very few films that center around strong female characters, and Courtney Hunt has directed and written a powerful one. This film reminds me a lot of Winter Bone (which came out a couple of years later) which also benefited from a strong female performance. It is a tale of endurance and focuses on the American underclass that very seldom is portrayed on film in an authentic manner. I enjoyed this film so much that I'm actually looking forward to Hunt's next film (The Whole Truth) which will be released this year.

Melissa Leo deservedly received an Oscar nod for her performance and I think this was the perfect role for her. She has this authentic look and is credible as a single mother who is willing to do what it takes to get out of her current situation. Her chemistry with Misty Upham is what makes this film standout. Upham is also given a strong female character to play and she delivers a strong performance. She and Leo's character both are going through difficult moments in their lives struggling with poverty. They are matched together by the circumstances they are facing despite their differences and that relationship is the heart of the film. The kids played by Charlie McDermott and James Reilly are both solid, but the female characters are the heart and soul of this film. The scenery also plays a huge role in this film considering the harsh and freezing conditions are transmitted to the characters in the story. They struggle and battle with the adversities presented in their lives with fearless strength. It is a small gritty indie drama that is worth checking out, especially if you were a fan of Winter's Bone.
January 4, 2015
Just a truly amazing film of people living difficult lives and doing all they know to do in the face of the circumstances they're presented with. It's a story of desperation and choice. It also provides an interesting lens into a world I had no idea existed in the very state I reside in.

I'm glad Melissa Leo got recognition for her great work in this film. I remember her from the critically-acclaimed 90s police drama "Homicide: Life On The Street."
January 3, 2015
I only watched this movie just to watch something.
January 3, 2015
Another realistic depiction of american life, with fine winter settings and performance of Melissa Leo.
Robbanflix
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2015
A drama crime movie with Melissa Leo (Oscar nominated) for her role. She did a nice job with her part but honestly im not quite sure if its Oscar worthy.. The movie itself are well made but no masterpiece here. Story are about illegal smugglers between New York State and Quebec. Fast money for surviving. The movie are pretty much about that so it can feel a bit dragged sometime. Watchable flick tho if u want a short drama flick.
½ August 26, 2014
Well acted, a little slow at times but wholeheartedly grounded in reality.
August 10, 2014
absolutely love the acting and direction. on my seat until the very end. wow!
Page 1 of 92