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Learn more about Frozen River (Blu-ray):

Format: Blu-Ray DVD
Sku: 210562380
UPC: 043396300354
UPC 14: 00043396300354
Rating: Game Rating Code
See more in Drama
Desperation Knows No Borders.
Life in Massena is as harsh and barren as the frigid landscape. In this bleak terrain, two hardened single mothers are trying to make lives for their children. Lila is a widowed Mohawk whose mother-in-law "stole" her newborn son a year ago. Ray is a mother of two whose gambling-addicted husband just left town with the down payment for their new trailer home. Faced with little opportunity to make ends meet, Ray and Lila embark on an illegal venture transporting immigrants into the U.S. across Mohawk territory. With the money for the down payment within Ray's grasp, the women are determined to make one last run. When circumstances spiral out of control, the two women must make life or death decisions based on their friendship and love for their children.

"...both absorbing and bleak, Frozen River is anchored by powerful performances, believable scenarios and excellent writing.  Claudia Puig, USA Today
"Gripping! Opens up a world we rarely see on film. A superb performance by Melissa Leo.  David Ansen, Newsweek
"...incredibly compelling and intense and I can't think of another film that's this small and powerful.  Don R. Lewis, Film Threat
"...let its bracing drama and the intensity of its acting restore your spirits as well as your faith in American independent film.  Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Miracles do happen. Frozen River is one of them. Melissa Leo's performance is screen acting of the highest order.  Richard Schickel, Time

Editor's Note
Courtney Hunt's feature directorial debut FROZEN RIVER is a powerfully unflinching tale of two women, who, driven by economic hardship, form an unlikely partnership smuggling illegal immigrants across the Canadian border. Melissa Leo turns in a gritty performance as Ray, a struggling dollar-store cashier and mother living in a trailer home in upstate New York who is desperate to make ends meet. When Ray's gambling-addicted husband runs off with the family's payment on a new doublewide trailer, her life quickly spirals into a financial tailspin. During a frenzied search for her deadbeat spouse, she apprehends Lila (Misty Upham), a Mohawk Indian from an area reservation, attempting to steal her car. In the process of taking back her vehicle, she learns of Lila's smuggling operation through an unpatrolled corridor within Mohawk territory--the frozen St. Lawrence River that forms part of the border between the U.S. and Canada. Out of necessity, they form an uneasy alliance: Ray, working to meet the payment's deadline, and Lila, who scrambles to earn money to redeem herself to her estranged in-laws and infant child.

Within a stark, mostly minimalist screenplay, Hunt seamlessly works in contemporary anxieties: economic recession, immigration, and trafficking, but never puts too fine a point on social relevance to the detriment of a compelling storyline. As the plot heats up, the stakes Ray and Lila encounter get higher and the danger, more real. FROZEN RIVER is more than a somber meditation on lives in peril, it's a complex portrait of women from different walks of life struggling to find their ethical bearings in a harsh, unforgiving, and corrupt world.


Video Features Widescreen, Dolby Digital (5.1), English, French, Subtitled

Technical Info

Release Information
Video Mfg Name Studio: Sony
Video Release Date Release Date: 1/4/2011
Video Play Time Running Time: 97 minutes
Video Release Year Original Release Date: 2008
Video CategoryId Catalog ID: 30035
Video UPC UPC: 00043396300354
Video Number of Discs Number of Discs: 1

Audio & Video
Video Original Language Original Language: English
Video Audio Spec Available Audio Tracks: English
Video Color Spec Video: Color

Aspect Ratio
Video Aspect Ratio Widescreen  1.78:1

Cast & Crew

Video Cast Info Mark Boone Jr.
Video Cast Info Charlie McDermott
Video Cast Info Melissa Chessington Leo
Video Cast Info Misty Upham
Video Cast Info Charles S. Cohen - Executive Producer
Video Cast Info Courtney Hunt - Screenwriter
Video Cast Info Reed Morano - Director of Photography
Video Cast Info Donald A. Harwood - Executive Producer
Video Cast Info Shahad Ismaily - Composer
Video Cast Info Chip Hourihan - Producer
Video Cast Info Heather Rae - Producer
Video Cast Info Peter Golub - Composer
Video Cast Info Courtney Hunt - Director


Independent Spirit (2009)
   Video Award Name Charlie McDermott, Nominee, Best Supporting Male
   Video Award Name Chip Hourihan, Heather Rae, Nominee, Best Feature

Oscar (2009)
   Video Award Name Courtney Hunt, Nominee, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Independent Spirit (2009)
   Video Award Name Courtney Hunt, Nominee, Best First Screenplay
   Video Award Name Courtney Hunt, Nominee, Best Director
   Video Award Name Heather Rae, Nominee, Producers Award

Screen Actors Guild (2009)
   Video Award Name Melissa Leo, Nominee, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Oscar (2009)
   Video Award Name Melissa Leo, Nominee, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Independent Spirit (2009)
   Video Award Name Melissa Leo, Nominee, Best Female Lead
   Video Award Name Misty Upham, Nominee, Best Supporting Female

Sundance Film Festival (2008)
Video Award Name Courtney Hunt, Winner, Grand Jury Prize - Dramatic

Professional Reviews

USA Today
"A Sundance hit that is both absorbing and bleak, FROZEN RIVER is anchored by powerful performances, believable scenarios and excellent writing." 08/04/2008

Los Angeles Times
"This intense indie drama of unlikely female partners involved in a smuggling operation on the Canadian border is a bracing character study." 08/01/2008

Entertainment Weekly
"In FROZEN RIVER, Leo's acting has a brittle severity and power. Every moment of her performance feels torn from experience, and so does the movie, which finds a suspense in broken lives that are hanging in the balance." -- Grade: A- 08/08/2008 p.46

Box Office
3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Melissa Leo delivers a beautifully understated performance as Ray Eddy....Writer/director Courtney Hunt keeps her bearings on Leo, granting the actress unparalleled latitude to evolve a character..." 08/01/2008

Chicago Sun-Times
"A spellbinding thriller, yes, but even more a portrait of economic struggle in desperate times." 12/05/2008

Los Angeles Times
"Everyone at the center of FROZEN RIVER is standing on the edge of a chasm of despair....In the darkness, Hunt chooses instead of hope and redemption to go for reality, and that turns out to be a gift that is both brave and rare." 02/05/2009

Entertainment Weekly
"Leo is a revelation, turning what could've been kitchen sink clichés into a tiny miracle of human resilience." -- Grade: A- 02/13/2009

Total Film
4 stars out of 5 -- "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..." 06/23/2009

Wall Street Journal
"This is a debut feature....You'd never know it though, from the filmmaker's commandingly confident style..." 10/29/2010

San Francisco Chronicle 6 of 10
"Frozen River" won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and it's a film very much in the Sundance style. It's earnest. It's socially concerned. It's about people who are struggling. And it has a soundtrack consisting mainly of an acoustic guitar gently weeping in an echo chamber. The echoing guitar makes everything in the movie seem lonely indeed, not to mention very distant, as though everyone onscreen has been dead for 100 years...Justice should be done with regard to "Frozen River." It's an honest effort, and the performance by Melissa Leo as the downtrodden mother of two sons, living in a falling-down trailer with no insulation, is emotionally committed...But 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?...The title comes from the fact that, in order to elude the police, smugglers drive across a frozen river, which at any minute could crack and then wouldn't that be awful? Again, that's a detail that seemingly could have made the smuggling scenes more exciting or at least more interesting, but "Frozen River" eschews drama as much as the characters avoid state troopers. It's as if someone thought that any hint of life would render the movie insincere...This final point leads us to what is ultimately wrong with "Frozen River" and about other movies in its style. Under the guise of sincerity, it's fundamentally insincere, and while posing as gritty, it's in fact sentimental. It presents a world in which the working poor are noble and boring, the Indians angry but virtuous, and life has no humor or energy to it at all. The distance of the guitar is the distance of a filmmaker looking warmly at specimens under glass, with lots of genuine sympathy but little genuine understanding of their lives. - Mick LaSalle

Chicago Sun-Times 10 of 10
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," playing two mothers who live without male support in shabby house trailers on the U.S.-Quebec border: Mohawk territory...Leo is Ray Eddy, whose husband left his car at a Mohawk bingo parlor and disappeared, perhaps on the bus to Atlantic City. He is a gambling addict and has taken all the money that they were saving to buy a better trailer. Ray scrapes by on a half-time job at the Yankee One Dollar store, and until pay day, her kids, who are 15 and 5 years old, are dining on popcorn and Tang...Upham is Lila Littlejohn, a Mohawk who works at the bingo hall and lives alone; her mother-in-law has "stolen" her 1-year-old. The two women meet after Lila finds the keys in Ray's husband's abandoned car and drives it away, and Ray follows her home: "That's my car." Lila says she knows a smuggler who will give her $2,000 for it, no questions asked. She knows a lot more than that, which is how Ray finds them both in the business of smuggling aliens across the border into the United States. This involves the two women making hazardous car trips across the ice of a frozen river, dealing with unsavory types on both sides, and carrying Chinese and Pakistanis in the trunk...In detail after detail, "Frozen River" is the story of two lives in economic emergency, and two women who are brave and resourceful and ready to do what's necessary. It doesn't play sides. It isn't about illegal aliens or smuggling. It's about replacing popcorn and Tang with a meal at the Chopper, and some nice TV dinners. That it climaxes on Christmas Eve doesn't even seem contrived, just sad. - Roger Ebert

Product Attributes

Product attributeActor:   Leo,Melissa
Product attributeLabel:   Columbia/tri-Star
Product attributeMusic Format:   Blu-ray DVD
Product attributeVideo Format:   DVD
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