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Review: A clash of cultures in moving 'Frozen River'
Friday, August 29, 2008
Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment

"It's a face that shows not just the years, but the miles. And when Ray Eddy quietly weeps in the opening moments of "Frozen River," the tears follow aged lines formed by worry, poverty and cigarettes.

Ray, played by Melissa Leo in one of those career-defining performances, has two children, a crummy part-time job that won't cover expenses and a husband who has just run off with all her meager savings — again. She's earned the right to cry. But she has one dream: a new double-wide, insulated against the upstate New York cold, a home for her two sons, Ricky, 5, and T.J., 15. And no repo men, no sexism in the workplace that keeps her from a living wage, no latest disappointment from her gambler husband will make Ray let go of her American dream.

Then, fate intervenes. She stumbles into a testy young Mohawk, Lila (Misty Upham). If these two, let down by their men, can develop a tiny bit of trust, maybe stop holding guns on one another, Lila has a way for them to pick up some quick cash. Ray has a car with a push-button trunk. The river across the Canadian border is frozen. They can drive from Mohawk land to Mohawk land, smuggling in illegal aliens.

"This is free trade between (Mohawk) nations," Lila insists. With the money coming in, Ray's inclined to believe her. Maybe she won't lose her new house deposit by Christmas after all.

Courtney Hunt's "Frozen River" is the first great film of the fall. It has great actors playing vivid characters in a setting that makes for a clash of cultures. The state police won't stop Ray "because you're white," Lila spits out at every opportunity. Her tribe doesn't approve of what she's doing, but has its own ineffectual ways of straightening her out. She lost custody of her infant, a wrong that tribal police won't right. All she wants is the money to set her up to take him back."

Get the Story:
'Frozen River' is a sobering, moving look at culture clash (The Orlando Sentinel 8/29)

Related Stories:
Review: Mohawk smuggling in intense 'Frozen River' (8/1)



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