Sundance BuzzCheck™: 'Frozen River'

Frozenriver_lI know I should be giving you the pulse on all of Sundance’s hits and misses, but on Friday I went to the premiere of a movie that falls smack in the middle of the pack: Frozen River. While definitely worth seeing, there hasn’t been much chatter about it one way or the other. Here’s hoping that changes.

The drama follows two destitute women (played by Misty Upham and Melissa Leo) who smuggle illegal immigrants into the U.S. across the Canadian border. Director Courtney Hunt’s inspiration for the film, which started out as a short, were articles in which she read about actual women smugglers who’d drive across the frozen Saint Lawrence River, from Ontario to New York. "They smuggle many different things," Hunt says. "In the last 10 years, it’s turned more to illegal immigrants. That was interesting to me…. And I talked to smugglers and got a sense of why they do it and who they were." (Frozen River isn’t a political movie, but thank god somebody is willing to acknowledge that the U.S. doesn’t only border Mexico.) Hunt’s casting of Leo (21 Grams, Homicide: Life on the Street) and Upham was an interesting one: The former is a 30-year industry vet who is grateful for finally being able to sink her teeth into a lead character, while Hunt recruited Upham, a relative newcomer to the film business, off of a Native American actors website. Says Hunt, "I cast her really from her picture and a conversation with her on the telephone."

Comments (7 total) Add your comment
  • aubree

    Saw the premiere in Utah, EXCELLENT film!

  • William BirdsHead

    I seen the film at the premier and it was a very great film. As a Native american I can say that this film has what it takes. I sat with Courtney Hunt and we talk about the film and she was very intrigued about what I had to say about her film. I give it a high 5 star… Must See

  • Don

    I just got out of this film at Sundance. I paid $32 for my wife and I to go, and it was awful in our opinions. We both considered leaving, and didn’t know each other had the same urge.
    I saw Troubled Water the night before which was super great. Seriously. Same with ‘Kicking It.’
    I cannot believe how a film like Frozen River gets into Sundance, let alone wins the dramatic grand prize.
    From the very first scene it was clear this would be bad, transparent acting with dialog that sounded read off of an awful script.
    The plot didn’t make up for it, and there wasn’t a single character I cared about in it. Everyone tried to over act, making lines that needn’t be spoken angry come out one after the other.
    I applaud the effort of making a film, it’s hard work, but I am still in disbelief. And I wasn’t the only one, since half the theater got up and wanted to run for the door before the director came in to steal another 30 mins. from our lives.

  • Viggo Mortensen

    I would love to state that I have seen the film.
    Courtney Hunt
    A little misunderstanding in a few pieces but i really liked to story front

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