Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    It's tough and cold and gives an inside look at poverty in America. Yet the film is also incredibly compelling and intense and I can't think of another film that's this small and powerful.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    In the end, you feel that Frozen River gives about as truthful a picture of American bleakness as it's possible for a movie to present. It is a movie that asks something of an audience, but it richly rewards our curiously rapt attention.
  3. 100
    As the summer heats up, let Frozen River wash over you; let its bracing drama and the intensity of its acting restore your spirits as well as your faith in American independent film.
  4. 100
    Sometimes two performances come along that are so perfectly matched that no overt signals are needed to show how the characters feel about each other. That's what happens between Melissa Leo and Misty Upham in Frozen River.
  5. There is nothing sentimental or picturesque about the performances or imagery. The word that best describes both is elemental.
  6. A tale of ordinary Americans scraping bottom, yet there's a redemption in that. The film asks: If you were this desperate, wouldn't you do the same?
  7. This is a debut feature, though you'd never know it from the filmmaker's commandingly confident style, or from the heartbreaking beauty -- heartbreaking, then heartmending -- of Melissa Leo's performance as a poor single mother who's living her whole life on thin ice.
  8. Ms. Hunt's eye for detail has the precision of a short story writer's. She misses nothing.
  9. 90
    Made with uncommon skill and assurance, the film never succumbs to rank sentimentality, but it manages to get at the nuances of human relationships.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A Sundance hit that is both absorbing and bleak, Frozen River is anchored by powerful performances, believable scenarios and excellent writing.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Strikingly authentic, socially conscious crime drama.
  12. 88
    There is no shortage of indie movies about economically challenged women. This one is different, in that the women actually do something besides just talk about it.
  13. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Possibly one of the biggest reasons Frozen River stands out among bad-decision movies is that Ray never really tries to justify her actions.
  14. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Does what too many independent American movies only pretend to do: Takes you to an unnoticed corner of our country and shows what it's like to actually live there.
  15. Melissa Leo is startlingly good...You feel like you're watching a life, not a performance.
  16. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    If there's one thing this movie gets dead right, it's the desperation of impoverished single mothers trying to fend for their children.
  17. 80
    Frozen River isn't cinematically ambitious or formally adventurous, but it's built around powerful and nuanced performances by Leo, Upham and Charlie McDermott.
  18. 80
    A first-rate thriller, maintaining a high level of suspense.
  19. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Original, sad, suspenseful and involving: the kind of work that helps independent American cinema retain its good name.
  20. Frozen River skates matter-of-factly on thin ice.
  21. 75
    If the role brings her more recognition and work, all the better, but Leo certainly isn't lobbying for it. She doesn't show off. She just does what she's always done: Reveals a character for who she is, nothing more, nothing less.
  22. Most films about illegal immigration are set on the Mexican border, and Frozen River is free of the stereotypical characters and situations of that familiar setting. It also offers a rare look at modern Native American life, exploring the ambiguity of what it means to say that the laws of the white man cannot be enforced on Indian territory.
  23. 75
    It's not a happy film, but it feels true.
  24. The film's greatest achievement is that it allows us to know Ray.
  25. Melissa Leo is one of America's most underrated character actresses, and Frozen River confirms that opinion.
  26. 75
    A solid, satisfying movie.
  27. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    No trendsetter or breakthrough, this is more than anything else a welcome chance for the fine actor Melissa Leo to finally dominate a film in a terrific and affecting lead role.
  28. All in all, Frozen River is gripping stuff. Except it's also rigged and cheaply manipulative.
  29. If we're going to be honest, we need to look inside and ask ourselves: Do we really want to see a listless movie about a woman whose dream is to move into a double-wide trailer?
  30. Has moments of honesty, but more often the barren landscape - both outside and inside - drains the emotions out of the film.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 64 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 4 out of 18
  1. Lyn
    Sep 4, 2010
    Melissa Leo truly deserved her Oscar nomination for a gritty performance that feels real from the shabbiness of her clothes to the crunch ofMelissa Leo truly deserved her Oscar nomination for a gritty performance that feels real from the shabbiness of her clothes to the crunch of the snow beneath the tires of her old car. One of those films that leaves you thinking later, "I wonder what happened to those people" . . . even though, of course, they were fictional. "Frozen" as well as the river in their own crises and quandaries, the characters make you root for them to break free. Full Review »
  2. Dec 9, 2011
    This is the greatest film I have seen in a long time. How didn't Melissa Leo win the Oscar for this? This is the performance of a lifetimeThis is the greatest film I have seen in a long time. How didn't Melissa Leo win the Oscar for this? This is the performance of a lifetime that will hopefully go down as a classic. Full Review »
  3. MurielG.
    Mar 1, 2009
    I live on the reservation depicted. Not only were some scenes too dark - many facts are left out and the reality of Akwesasne here is again I live on the reservation depicted. Not only were some scenes too dark - many facts are left out and the reality of Akwesasne here is again stereotyped. The only true pictures of here were the bridge - The movie mocks our tribal police, puts us all in rundown trailers, and made our Bingo Palace (which is eluded to by name in one scene) look rundown and the center of vandalism. And , of course the Mohawks are depicted as not caring about terrorist threats when they are smuggling people - "Only" the white woman in this film shows any concern or recognition of such threats - yet she is so stupid she throws a baby in a satchel out the door in case it may be something dangerous like(anthrax? or a bomb) she never looked to see what was in it. Another thing I have yet to see a big rig cross the "ice bridge" here. Parts of the film did hold my interest, the mention of our traditional Longhouse only puts traditionals down for not giving their children Santa Claus. What they are and what they truly represent, which is (I am sure) the key to continuation of life on this planet is a shame - so many people seeing this film have and will think what they saw represents this Nation (the Mohawk Nation). It never tells of all of the good honest & hard working people that live here nor how it was taken from our ancestors forcing a very few of our people to take some wrong actions. That would be a better focus for the movie. Unfortunately, the racism that we experience, does exist. The wrongs done to our people were done by the same terrorists they fear (themselves) when they took over our continent - do a film depicting that! ONe of your reviewers even sees this movie as the Mohawk woman and the white woman as correcting the past??? HUH??? How may I ask. Full Review »