Thursday, September 21





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MovieMojo

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Alleyways - Movie Review: Frozen River

Movie review by David Wayne Brown

The director of the new award-winning indie film Frozen River made appearances to answer audience questions after showings at Malco’s Studio on the Square in midtown Memphis. She explained that she wanted to just report without comment on the human smuggling going on in upstate New York at the Canadian border and the junction with the Mohawk Indian Reservation — an unusual border area with a “blank zone” where smugglers have operated for decades.

Smugglers cross rivers, driving over ice in the dead of winter. That is the central idea for the film. Hunt, a native of Memphis, started her film writing and directing career about eight years ago. She first made “Frozen River” as a short film, then continued raising funds until she could extend it to feature length. It was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for drama at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival this year.

Starring Melissa Leo, one of America's best, yet lesser-known actresses, and introducing Misty Upham, a Mohawk, the film follows the course of two women frozen in their own desperate situations who become fellow smugglers after a chance encounter.

Tense, tightly-edited and with satisfactory-to-stunning performances by every actor in the crew, the movie is one of the year’s finest thrillers and deepest character studies. Filmed on location, including night scenes on the river ice that is at the heart of the story and title, this movie is taut, fast and unnerving.

Leo is a fine actress who should be offered more roles. She plays a character toughened by life but with an interior softness that betrays her self interests. Upham’s bravado stares out at the world through a face “frozen” in self protection.

Rarely does a film these days give us such depth of character into the women portrayed. Don’t miss “Frozen River.” It was created by a talented director we’ll hear much more about soon.

Mojo Approved



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