Frozen River

Director: Courtney Hunt
Year Released: 2008
Rating: 2.0

Down-and-out Ray (Melissa Leo) - with two kids, a lousy job at a Dollar Store, no money, no food and a runaway gambling addict husband - partners up with an equally poor Native American woman (Misty Upham) to smuggle illegal immigrants into the States from Canada for quick but risky income. In essence, it's a glorified Lifetime movie but with a strong, driving performance by Leo: it's purposely depressing, it contains numerous oppressive/cruel males (the absentee Dad, the suspicious police officer, the unfeeling Dollar Store manager, the impatient house delivery man) and operates on viewer pity instead of fully exploring the ethical issue(s) at play (the women - themselves exploited by society - aid the exploiters and continue the evil cycle - there is a thing called the Classifieds section in the newspaper, after all). Leo's character's considerable strength keeps the movie together - she gets shot in the ear, cracked in the skull, her oldest son threatens her with a torch: all that and no tears. That's a warrior for you.