Thursday, March 12, 2009

Frozen River on dvd


Frozen River is about mothers and children. It is about what mothers will do for their children. It is about women without husbands, or with husbands who have problems. These women are all around us. They are invisible to society at large. They barely scrape by. And these are the lucky ones. Other women are in shelters or living week-to-week in former motel units or on the streets. They are not glamorous. They are not beautiful. They live in jeans and sweatshirts and old coats. The star is Melissa Leo, who I think is the best actress working today. Tom and I first 'met' her as Detective Howard, a cop on Homicide. She has the most amazing face - it is sculptured and beautiful and yet at the same time is the face of the woman you meet in the aisle of the supermarket.

The father has just left. We learn that he is an addict who gambles away the money that should go toward a new double-wide home. The mother, Ray, played by Melissa Leo is working behind the "Yankee Dollar" store counter. She's been there for two years waiting for a promotion to working full-time. Her young male boss is condescending and you know that he doesn't even see her. His eyes are on the blonde who also works there. You know that if anyone gets that full-time job, it will be her, not Ray.

Ray has two sons, fifteen and five. She feeds them popcorn and Tang until the next paycheck comes. The rent-to-own people are going to take back the tv. The double-wide people won't deliver the home because she doesn't have the money.

I know this sounds bleak, but it is real. This is the woman who lives across town. If you are a teacher, you know her kids.

And there is more. We meet people from the Mohawk tribe who live on the 'res.' Some of them are engaged in smuggling 'illegals' into the country via the reservation which straddles the New York/Quebec border. There is a young woman, Lila, played wonderfully by Misty Upham, whose husband drowned while engaged in this work. Her mother-in-law took the baby from the hospital when Lila gave birth and is raising the child. Lila can't take regular jobs because her vision is poor, and she is too poor to buy glasses.

You know what's going to happen here. I'm not giving anything away when I tell you that the two women, the two mothers become a smuggling team. There is danger and trouble, but none of the awful things you might expect from a 'thriller' movie happen. The ending is both uplifting and realistic.

Frozen River was filmed in Plattsburg, New York. The setting is perfect for the movie, and it is almost another character. But it could have taken place here or where you live. These women are among us. I am so thankful Courtney Hunt made this important, excellent movie.

18 comments:

  1. Wow. That movie will have to be watched on a very quiet afternoon to give it full attention. I'm so glad you posted about this. I agree with you about Melissa Leo. She is brilliant.

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  2. I am so, so happy that you want to see it, Karin. And isn't she just wonderful!

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  3. That movie got a lot of publicity in the central NY press when it came out, but I haven't seen it. I'm on the way to Netflix now to put it in the queue.

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  4. Thank you for posting this. I'll put it in my Must See book that I keep to remind me.

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  5. Kay, it will certainly offer a different climate/landscape from your lovely home!

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  6. Nan, what a clear and compassionate review, of what sounds to be a wonderful film. I will definitely have to check and see if it is out, here in England.

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  7. Thank you, Carole, for your nice words. Is there a "netflix" over there??

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  8. I knew that Leo had been nominated for an Oscar but I didn't know what the movie was about. I'm glad you talked about it as it sounds very interesting. I'll try to see it as soon as I can.

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  9. Sibylle, I didn't know she had been nominated. So well-deserved. I'll be interested in your opinion when you see it.

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  10. I have so wanted to see this movie since I read about it a year or so ago in the WSJ (it got an excellent review). Thanks for letting me know about the DVD. I am going to put some pressure on my local libraries to get a copy. We all know about life on the border here, and rural America in general, don't we? Your review was also excellent.

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  11. KSV W - Thanks very much. The movie was so close to reality. Amazing work. If you get Netflix, it is available there.

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  12. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Ruth

    http://systemmemory.info

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  13. Ruth, thank you for stopping by, and for taking the time to leave a note. Please come back often!

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  14. Thanks so much for this great review of a startling and all-absorbing movie. It made me feel privileged to get a glimpse into a part of the country and its people that I will probably never get to know directly. I watched it from Netflix because of my admiration for Melissa Leo, and I was not disappointed.

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  15. Linda, thank you so much for coming back to talk about the movie. ML is just amazing. I wish she were in more movies. I'm reading Rick Bragg's latest book now, and it occurs to me that the southern women in all his books, which are nonfiction, share something with the Leo character. It may be hard work, not much money, love of family... I don't know, but I feel a connection.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.