Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Frozen River - Review

Having been released nearly a year ago in the States, to be considered for the coming award season, and faring favourably amongst such showcases as the 2009 Academy Awards and the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, finally the good people of the U.K. are given the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. Frozen River is a tale set in the North County of upstate New York just on the Canadian boarder about a struggling mother of two, Ray Eddy (played by Melissa Leo) in the build up to the Christmas season, handling the aftermath of her husband abandoning her, and having to scrape by on paying off the bills and raising her two sons, while stuck in a dead-end job to nowhere. While on the search for her husband she encounters Lila Littlefoot, a resident of the nearby reservation for Native Americans, and from then on her life is hurled into a dark world of trafficking illegal immigrants across the boarder into the USA.

Having been possibly the only big film during the award season I was unable to view earlier in the year, I was quite amazed by how powerful the imagery in this film was despite never feeling awfully cinematic in the way it was filmed with the digital cameras. Displaying some bleak hopeless shots across a baron woodland landscape and a strong, verging on visceral portrayal of working class Middle America there is certainly enough on show, for a promising future for the debut director Courtney Hunt. The performances were certainly on par with the director's talent with Melissa Leo really making the role of Ray her own, and quite possibly giving the performance of her, extremely underrated, career. Touching flawed and ultimately real it is quite a shame Leo did not get the Oscar she probably deserved (but I suppose you had to give Kate Winslet a break eventually...). The support cast were excellent also though the shining star from the pack was definitely Charlie McDermott as the eldest of Ray's two sons, T.J who displays a huge amount of maturity having to handle all the domestic problems while his mother sorts out their financial troubles.

Final Thoughts
Driven by several tense, dramatic moments (including one involving a recently born child) the film rarely shows you any sign of pure uplifting, hopeful moments, giving the audience a very haunting story about the depths some people will go to support their family, and in troubled economic times serves as a reminder (albeit a slightly exaggerated one) of how some people less fortunate than ourselves are struggling to manage within the current climate. Full of enough suspense to keep even the minor fans of edgy thrillers entertained, Frozen River is an intimate tale of the hardship within working class Middle America amongst the racism and financial woes. The coldest, most depressing film you will see all summer. Grim (and I mean that in a good way).


See this if you liked...
I'm kind of at a loss with like minded films for this one so view the trailer here:

Frozen River is in (very few) cinemas from Friday.

No comments: