Parents' Guide to

Frozen River

By James Rocchi, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Superb indie drama features great acting, smart script.

Movie R 2008 97 minutes
Frozen River Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 13+

A winner!!!!

Frozen River is an exceptional movie. Seen it several times and it's a must watch!! A very realistic look at smuggling illegal immigrants across the frozen river from Canada to New York. Ray (Melissa Leo) and Lila (Misty Upham) cross paths when Lila steals Ray's car. They're both short on money and both have children. Ray's desperate to make extra cash for Christmas when her husband took off without notice with their down payment on a new home. Making minimum wage at Yankee Dollar, she confronts her manager to move her up to full time as he had promised but he refuses. After one round of smuggling together, Ray and Lila develop a special bond and an agreement to split the profits from then on. The story is quite sad and depressing, but is a real eye opener too. Lila losing touch with her one year old son is very sad but doesn't stop to fight for him back! There's some language (several uses of the "f" word, b*tch and bulls**t, some racial slang) - one brief scene in a strip club with a semi-clothed dancer - some violence, main character smokes. Perfect for adults - Kids won't be interested in this although it's safe for ages 13 and up!

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
age 10+

Good for mature children 10 and up

I just watched this alone and it had no sex or drug use in it. The movie is intense because of the subject matter but that's it. It's a exciting movie to watch and you won't be bored. I think a mature 10 year old will be able to watch it and understand that these two women and smugglers and that it's a crime.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (2):

FROZEN RIVER is somehow both a grim, gritty drama and a breath of fresh air. It's a little-seen Sundance independent film that earned Oscar nominations for actress Melissa Leo and for the screenplay by writer-director Courtney Hunt. While Frozen River revolves around the kind of moral, ethical, and financial questions rarely seen in film -- and does so through rich, real characters -- it also has a strong element of suspense and tension, mixing a socially-conscious drama with the tension and thrills of a crime film.

Leo's Oscar-nominated performance is excellent; Misty Upham, as her partner-in-crime, is also superb. Writer-director Hunt also makes her mark on the film, and her commentary on the DVD is a great discussion of the high-level ideas that lie under her script and the more direct concerns of the challenges in making her film with a minimal budget and rushed schedule. Frozen River is principled but never preachy, engaging but never anything less than superbly entertaining. If Leo's nomination means more people seek out and see Frozen River, then one good thing's already come out of the 2008 Oscars.

Movie Details

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