Jay Klaitz

Review: Frozen River is good, Melissa Leo is really good

February 18th, 2009 at 7:12 am by under Entertainment

Illegal immigration, racism, gambling, smoking, and people living in poverty… all the makings for a riveting drama that builds momentum as the movie progresses.

While this isn’t the best made movie of 2008 and it wasn’t strong enough to be nominated for Best Picture… the nominations for Best Actress (Melissa Leo) and for Best Original Screenplay… are well deserved.

“Frozen River” is a small, but powerful movie that takes a hard look at living in poverty, gambling, and relations between those living on the reservation and those living just outside of it.

Melissa Leo is really good as the mother of two, trying to make ends meet while her husband blows whatever money they have on gambling… and how a seemingly innocent illegal act could help build up enough money to move from her scrappy trailer to a “double wide”.   Leo plays the part so well and is so believable, that you start to feel like your watching a documentary about a mother trying to make a living for her kids.

Her new business partner Lila, played well by Misty Upham, lives in an even smaller and even more flimsy trailer with no car to get to work.  This all sets up why they decide that a plan is acceptable to smuggle illegals across the border over the frozen river crossing between Canada and the U.S.