Sunday, February 22, 2009

Frozen River

Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, 2008) [8]

Melissa Leo's performance is really that good, and if there's any justice, it should win her an Oscar tonight. But this is bleak, uncompromising film that is certainly all too depressing for some people. Leo plays Ray Eddy, a woman barely surviving in Upstate New York on the Canadian border. She has a lousy, low paying job, is trying to raise two kids in a dilapidated home, and her degenerate gambler husband just took off with their money for a new double wide. Ray is a woman at rock bottom, and Leo plays her with such a confidence and subtlety that she nails the character perfectly. Ray has reached a point of desperation so strong that she ends up in a smuggling operation of illegal aliens with a Mohawk woman (Misti Upham). It's a situation that is all but to certain to not end up pretty for Ray but that's what is to be expected. Give credit to Courtney Hunt for a story and characters that are true reflections of those living on the bottom of the economic spectrum. There are a few moments that feel a little too manipulative and crafted but it is really Leo's performance that help keep the film grounded in its realm. Leo and Upham are playing characters that have no other opportunities other than the solution presented to them and Frozen River pulls no punches in showing the toll poverty takes.

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