Frozen River (2008)

Frozen River
Director: Courtney Hunt
Writer: Courtney Hunt
Cast: Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott, Michael O’Keefe, Mark Boone Junior
Part of: Real America

Ray (Melissa Leo) dreams of a house for herself and her family. But when her husband takes off with the balloon payment and leaves her and her two sons (Charlie McDermott, Dylan Carusona) without any money whatsoever, her dream (and down-payment) seem lost. But then Ray happens upon Lila (Misty Upham), a Mohawk who also fights to get by. Circumstances throws the two of them together as they start smuggling people into the US through the Mohawk territory.

I’m not exactly sure why and how I missed Frozen River so far, but I really am cursing myself for it. It is absolutely fantastic. Writing, story, cast and general filmmaking actually left me breathless a couple of times.

It is absolutely incredible that this was Courtney Hunt’s first movie. (It’s also incredible for me that she hasn’t made a movie since. I wonder if that’s of her own choosing or because the film industry doesn’t treat its female directors very well, no matter the accolades they get.) It is so completely pitch-perfect that it feels like a seasoned veteran was in charge of it.

Especially the writing is just always spot-on. From the way the story unfolds to the dialogues, it just feels completely natural. And I really loved the extraordinary setting.

It is rare to get movies about female friendship, so that alone is already a sight for sore eyes (let alone that it was very well executed). I loved how Ray and Lila’s relationship develop, how they get thrown together by circumstances and somehow are able to make it stick, how they start to respect and trust each other.

Melissa Leo and Misty Upham carry this friendship and the entire film. One could not have wished for better actresses. It was wonderful.

Summarising: Absolutely recommended.

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