Struggle and Sacrifice
Release Date: August 01, 2008
Starring: Melissa Leo and Misty Upham
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 97 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony
Director: Courtney Hunt
Executive Producer: Charles S. Cohen, Donald A.
Harwood and Jay B. Itkowitz
Producer: Heather Rae, Chip Hourihan,
Molly Conners, and Alfonso
Writer: Courtney Hunt
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com
At home, Ray’s son T.J. wants to help the family’s situation and scams a credit card number from an elderly lady. He then exchanges that number for a Christmas present for his little brother. He tries to fix frozen pipes, but only damages the trailer, forcing Ray to make one more illegal run.
FROZEN RIVER is well made, though at times the plot is predictable. The acting is understated and performances by Melissa Leo and Misty Upham as Ray and Lila are superb. Though rated R for foul language, it is a moral movie at heart. The state troopers catch up with Ray and Lila, and the Mohawk tribal police deal with TJ for the credit card scam. The smuggling is never glorified. When caught, Ray has an opportunity to escape and let Lila be arrested, which Lila was willing to do. However, Ray returns and surrenders to the police, entrusting Lila to care for her kids until she is out of jail. This sacrifice, doing what’s right though difficult, is the real heart of the movie.
There is much racial tension in this town. Lila repeatedly says to Ray, “Remember you are white,” to explain how why she won’t get stopped by the police. Other Indian characters emphasize that they “don’t work with whites.” Ray is okay smuggling Chinese, but doesn’t want to smuggle a couple from Pakistan, fearing that they are terrorists. These racial references depict a society with racial problems and a society where unequal treatment of some races and ethnicities as compared to whites exists.
At the same time, the writers brilliantly (but implicitly) suggest that holding fast to racial/ethnic biases and stereotypes can lead to deadly consequences. For instance, fearing a bomb, Ray tosses the Pakistan couple’s duffel bag out the window onto the frozen river, only to later learn that the couples newborn infant was in the bag. They return for the infant and discover that the baby is still alive. Ray credits Lila with saving the baby, but Lila says that it wasn’t her, it was the Creator who saved the baby.
This is a gripping drama, well told against the background of racial tension and illegal smuggling. While discernment is needed, media-wise viewers may find this an engaging story.
FROZEN RIVER is well made, though at times the plot is predictable. Though rated R for foul language, it is a moral movie at heart. The state troopers catch up with Ray and Lila, and the Mohawk tribal police deal with a credit card scam. The smuggling is never glorified. When caught, Ray has an opportunity to escape. However, Ray returns and surrenders to the police, entrusting Lila to care for her kids until she is out of jail. This sacrifice, doing what’s right though difficult, is the real heart of the movie.