Frozen River

User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 65 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 55 out of 65
  2. Negative: 5 out of 65

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User Reviews

  1. ChadS.
    Sep 7, 2008
    9
    This is not Woody Allen's New York. This New York has a bingo parlour, a trailer park, an Indian reservation. Annie Hall doesn't live here. Ray Eddy(Melissa Leo) lives here. And her New York wouldn't look more romantic shot in black and white with "Rhapsody in Blue" insinuating itself on the soundtrack. Ray is so poor, she has problems making payments on a mobile home. This is not Woody Allen's New York. This New York has a bingo parlour, a trailer park, an Indian reservation. Annie Hall doesn't live here. Ray Eddy(Melissa Leo) lives here. And her New York wouldn't look more romantic shot in black and white with "Rhapsody in Blue" insinuating itself on the soundtrack. Ray is so poor, she has problems making payments on a mobile home. Because she's poor, Ray gets to know the "Indians" in a way that Annie Hall, or any one of Allen's characters never would. "Frozen River" treats Native Americans as people, flawed people, real people, instead of people that are inherently noble because they had their land stolen from them. People like Lila(Misty Upham), who helps Chinese illegals cross the Canadian border into New York State. To Ray, Lila is just "some Indian chick". To help herself realize the dream of owning a "double-wide trailer"(oh, that is so sad), Ray joins forces with the Native American woman, as the film ingeniously comments on the historical relationship between the natives and the settlers through this tenuous bond of renegade women without being the least bit didactic about it. "Frozen River" plays out like a film with post-colonial ideals, but then the film suddenly, dramatically, becomes self-reflexive about it's post-colonialism when Ray tells Lila, "Now we're even," after she gets back what's rightfully hers. These loaded words hang in the air without the slightest indication by Ray of her own naivety. Post-colonial theory is predicated on having a short memory. Ray's words are a perfect encapsulation of their selective thinking process. "Frozen River" portrays white man's guilt over the Indian holocaust without the well-meaning fabulism of Kevin Costner's "Dances with Wolves", choosing instead to suture the rift between both peoples through sublimation. Both Ray and Lila live in a vacuum(but the film doesn't). When they befriend each other, both women are unaware that they're correcting the past. Expand
  2. Dec 9, 2011
    10
    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 lifetime that will hopefully go down as a classic.
  3. Lyn
    Sep 4, 2010
    9
    Melissa 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,Melissa 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. Expand
  4. BrandenR.
    Dec 30, 2008
    9
    This is a fantastic movie that everyone can relate to. There has to be a time in your life when you would do something wrong in order to survive. Fabulous debut from writer/director Courtney Hunt. Kudos to her.
  5. JonahR.
    Feb 15, 2009
    2
    Amatuerish and fake. It has one or two decent performances but nothing to get excited about. A movie about a woman who made many poor choices and yet we're suppose to become emotionally involved over her plight to earn her trailer house via illegal means. The ending rang false and there were many times I found myself rolling my eyes at the stupidity of the screenplay. I.E. Amatuerish and fake. It has one or two decent performances but nothing to get excited about. A movie about a woman who made many poor choices and yet we're suppose to become emotionally involved over her plight to earn her trailer house via illegal means. The ending rang false and there were many times I found myself rolling my eyes at the stupidity of the screenplay. I.E. Lila's eyesight was so poor that she couldn't count the money they earned...yet she can see tracks in the snow on a dark night on a frozen river. Expand
  6. MurielG.
    Mar 1, 2009
    2
    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 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. Collapse
  7. Joan
    Oct 1, 2008
    10
    As an avid movie-goer who goes to the movies at least once a week, I vote this film the best film of the year. A powerful story beautifully written and photographed with a gritty and dynamic performance by the vastly underrated Melissa Leo who is more than ably supported by a fine cast of actors, particularly Misty Upham.
  8. aideenm
    Jun 28, 2009
    6
    I stopped watching this movie after 10 minutes. Although the acting seemed fine, the movie was just too grim to watch with my grandchildren.
  9. JayH.
    Feb 8, 2009
    8
    Melissa Leo's performance is so genuine, she is wonderful and fully convincing. Great story. Very moving. Fine direction, the characters are richly developed. Excellent atmosphere. Just a great movie.
  10. ColinC
    Mar 1, 2009
    7
    I can see why reviewers and many other people liked this film. It certainly was an interesting look into the lives of people far removed from me. But it was also so bleak that I just felt completely drained at the end of it. Worth checking out if you're into non-commercial fare that explores some interesting themes revolving around sad, depressing people and their sad lives. And the I can see why reviewers and many other people liked this film. It certainly was an interesting look into the lives of people far removed from me. But it was also so bleak that I just felt completely drained at the end of it. Worth checking out if you're into non-commercial fare that explores some interesting themes revolving around sad, depressing people and their sad lives. And the look into how modern Indian reservations work, especially in regards to the white man's laws just outside their borders, was truly fascinating. Expand
  11. NerijusD
    Mar 21, 2009
    3
    Lame movie. Very poor direction, cinematography and supporting cast. The script has many holes as well. Some felt even ridiculous.
  12. TonyB.
    Apr 22, 2009
    7
    Here is a small film that delivers big. Let's see more of Melissa Leo.
  13. PattiL.
    Jul 9, 2009
    8
    Very good story set across Canadian-native-American borders. Intertwining of women lives from different backgrounds while exploring family and racial issues.
  14. [Anonymous]
    Aug 2, 2009
    10
    My third favorite of last year after Happy Go Lucky and WALL-E.
  15. FredA.
    Nov 26, 2008
    10
    A stark and stunning look at poverty and prejudice in America, tempered by the gritty performances of the lead actors and their portrayals of people who can still hope and strive, despite their personal fears and suspicions of "outsiders".
  16. BeaR.
    Aug 23, 2008
    10
    At last ... a really great movie made in the last few years. (I had given up hope.) The fascinating tale was flawlessly written and directed. It's neither plot nor character driven ... it's both ... as great literature should be. Amazing performances by Leo, Upham, and the kids. A beautiful, deadly setting in a frozen winterscape completes the artistic whole. (One reviewer felt At last ... a really great movie made in the last few years. (I had given up hope.) The fascinating tale was flawlessly written and directed. It's neither plot nor character driven ... it's both ... as great literature should be. Amazing performances by Leo, Upham, and the kids. A beautiful, deadly setting in a frozen winterscape completes the artistic whole. (One reviewer felt the cold made the viewer listless ... what a stupid thing to say!). Expand
  17. SM
    Apr 16, 2009
    1
    This movie was pretty boring. The story was OK, but the acting and directing was really weak. I cannot accept such a high user rating.
  18. Dec 9, 2010
    7
    The rule that independent American films have more substance than their Hollywood counter parts is yet again reaffirmed. The weight of the film is carried on the shoulders of the brilliant Melissa Leo who plays the down-ridden, abandoned mother of two, struggling to provide them a better life. It is the side of America that is anything but illustrious but yet so true to many.

Awards & Rankings

Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. 100
    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: Robert Koehler
    70
    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.
  3. 80
    If there's one thing this movie gets dead right, it's the desperation of impoverished single mothers trying to fend for their children.