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Frozen River


Stars: Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott, Michael O'Keefe, Mark Boone Jr

Director: Courtney Hunt

Deserted by her husband, who runs off with the money they had been saving for a new home, and desperate for cash, Ray (Leo), mother of two boys, aged 15 and five, makes the chance acquaintance of local Mohawk girl Lila (Upham), when the latter tries to steal her car.

Lila is involved in smuggling illegal immigrants between Canada and the snowy north of New York State, across the frozen Saint Lawrence river. In no time, Ray has overcome her scruples and joined forces with Lila on hazardous runs that bring them 600 dollars each. But each run brings new dangers, as complications set in, the ice gets ever thinner and the state troopers get ever closer.

Leo, Oscar-nominated for this role, gives a fine performance as the woman old before her time,and the film is, despite the dreary settings, exciting and suspenseful at times, as the women stay a precarious one step ahead of the law. It gets to be a bit of a grind towards the end, though, and those snowy wastes will chill you to the bone.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Axiom Films. Colour by Alpha Cine.
97 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 12 Jul 2009