Frozen River

Rated 4.0

Director/writer Courtney Hunt’s debut feature Frozen River has all the accouterments of yucky, well-intentioned liberal-sentimentality cinema—the delicate clashing of cultures, the shabby rural milieu, the working-class family squished by an unforgiving society. What makes Frozen River special is the authenticity of the locale (in this case, the border between Quebec and New York, and the Mohawk reservation that straddles it), the poetic force of the storytelling, the moments of gut-wrenching emotion and the credibility of the actors. Melissa Leo was deservedly Oscar-nominated for her performance as Ray Eddy, a down-and-out mother of two whose husband took off with the money they’d saved for a new double-wide. Desperate to provide, she gets involved in a dangerous scheme to transport illegal immigrants across the border from Canada.