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Wick's Review

Created Aug 31, 2008 10:07PM PST • Edited Dec 19, 2010 10:59AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Bleakly terrific, this compelling movie delivers sufficient tension, human interest and muckraking to qualify as an indie classic. Outstanding performances, especially by Melissa Leo, coupled with rookie filmmaker Courtney Hunt’s well crafted story and production, show why this engaging drama won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Melissa Leo, best known as Sgt. Kay Howard on the detective series Homicide, delivers an Oscar caliber performance as the leather tough Mom betrayed yet again by her degenerate gambler husband. Searingly honest about the toll taken by a life like this, and the apparent choices that created it, Leo’s portrayal of this desperate woman contains equal parts grit and grace.

    Charlie McDermott also impresses as her teenage son. His performance as the brave boy-of-the-house is spot-on perfect. Caught in the downward spiral caused by his father’s addictive treachery, he struggles with whom to blame and whom to protect.

    Also impressive is Misty Upham as the Mohawk Indian Mom who engages Leo’s character in human smuggling as a way to make ends meet. Upham’s quixotic mix of lying self-pity and undaunted pluck make her an ultimately endearing character.

  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Great 4.0

    Tremendously accomplished, Courtney Hunt’s first feature film marks her as an auteur of note.

    Her hard-nosed yet empathetic depiction of people on the outskirts of society creates a well rounded, fascinating tableau. From white “trailer trash” to resentful Indians, she finds the note perfect essence of each character. Even law enforcement and community leaders – typically shown as heartless tyrants in movies like this – are presented in a sympathetic and therefore realistic light.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5

    Courtney Hunt proves that a low budget doesn’t preclude great cinema. Someone in Hollywood should give her a few million dollars, and quick.

  10. Play Great 4.0
  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.7
  15. Sex Titillating 1.8
  16. Violence Fierce 1.6
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.7
  18. Glib 1.1

    Frozen River shows us a world of-the-moment and yet unknown to most Americans: the struggle to survive at the edge of our nation, and the human trafficking that occurs there. Ultimately life-affirming though hardly for the faint of heart, the movie also shows crime’s slippery slope. The Mom & Mom smugglers start by ferrying relatively sympathetic Chinese workers across the border, then find themselves toting riskier and more tragic passengers as they get in deeper.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.3
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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