close [×]

Dear Flixster Community,

After seven fabulous years with you all, we are sorry to let you know that we're going to be retiring the Flixster Community site on September 30, 2014. Please note that you can still access your ratings, reviews, and quizzes on Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes using your same login. We have had so much fun building this community with you.

Thanks for all the memories,

Get movie widget Recommend it Add to Favorites

Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott, Michael O'Keefe, Mark Boone Jr. ... see more see more... , James Reilly , Jay Klaitz , Bernie Littlewolf , John Canoe , Dylan Carusona , Michael Sky

Frozen River is the story of Ray Eddy, an upstate New York trailer mom who is lured into the world of illegal immigrant smuggling when she meets a Mohawk girl who lives on a reservation that straddles... read more read more... the U.S.-Canadian border. Broke after her husband takes off with the down payment for their new doublewide, Ray reluctantly teams up with Lila, a smuggler, and the two begin making runs across the frozen St. Lawrence River carrying illegal Chinese and Pakistani immigrants in the trunk of Ray's Dodge Spirit.

Flixster Users

74% liked it

85,605 ratings


87% liked it

127 critics

DVD Release Date: February 10, 2009

Stats: 2,240 reviews

Your Rating

clear rating

Flixster Reviews (2,240)

  • June 27, 2011
    I can't say exactly why this film so affected me, but it did. It was almost too real, viciously shot, plain and "boring" and heart-breaking enough that it could've been a Canadian film. Melissa Leo is believable, and from the opening shot - her smoking and crying in the car with ... read morethe door hanging open, snow all around - you're hooked. Made me think of some of the bleaker films I've ever seen, and this one's just not uplifting in any way. A great, realistic story about the lengths people will go to for their children and their way of life, scrappy and well worth watching; strong, minimalist film-making that proves the budget isn't everything.
  • March 21, 2010
    A pointless film to say the least, More proof to the fact that being realistic is not enough for a movie to be good, The film depicts poverty & struggle without exploration or insight , It only tries to impress with its shallow bitterness & harshness and Fails
  • February 6, 2010
    Morose tale of monstrous behavior among the desperate is ably but not expertly assembled. Leo's fearless performance is what stops Frozen from not melting into mediocrity.
  • fb619846742
    January 23, 2010
    An absorbing although bleak story concerning a desperate single mom struggling to make it after her husband deserts her and their two kids. In order to pay the bills she stumbles upon an opportunity to smuggle people in from Canada to the United States, where a frozen river means... read more no border police and limited attention. This film wouldn't be nearly as good without Melissa Leo's extraordinary quietly intense portrayal of a woman whose world is collapsing and desperation is rearing its ugly head. It's never fun to watch and there is one little flaw with the story telling, but for the most part this is gripping stuff that doesn't for one minute feel artificial or that the actors in the film are acting. Leo is just so good in this movie - her weathered face and tired reactions capture all the stress and hurt her character has gone through in her life so far.
  • December 16, 2009
    Desperation knows no borders.
  • November 3, 2009
    a truer film will be hard to find. Every scene breathes real, real people in real situations trying to survive when given a bad hand.

    No overglorified speaches, and the only redemption comes from within. The film is gritty and true in so many different ways as a woman whose ... read moregambling husband has robbed her and her two children and then taken a powder, leading her into trafficking illegals across the canadian border in order to make ends meet. Great performances abound, from her fifteen year old son who want to quit school and get a job, to the denizens of the Mohawk reservation, exhibiting a stoicism and wisdom that is simply "there" and not glorified.

    The culture clash adds an additional dimension in what is a wonderful charactor study.
  • October 24, 2009
    Low budget issue movie singled out by dint of its Oscar nominations but saying little new. Granted Leo gives a convincing portrait of a struggling single mother and her developing relationship with a Mohawk is well handled, but the switchback ending is contrived and it all felt a... read more bit hackneyed.
  • August 15, 2009
    Solid, character driven social drama about two impoverished single moms living on the US/Canadian border who become entangled in the smuggling of illegal aliens into the United States. Top notch independent film-making. Good story, good direction, no frills and GREAT performances.
  • July 26, 2009
    Melissa Leo's role as a trailer park single mum in Frozen River ranked her amongst esteemed company the likes of Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep. This gripping drama about risk, desperation and survival is an undiscovered gem and highly recommended.
  • April 28, 2009
    Down on her luck single mother resorts to smuggling illegals into the U.S. in an effort to make ends meet. Film details a side of life in upstate New York, near the Canadian border, rarely seen. Bleak, understated mood and wintry scenes intensify the grim subject matter effecti... read morevely . Melissa Leo gives a perfectly natural performance and she's matched by Misty Upham who plays her unlikely partner in crime.

Critic Reviews

David Jenkins
July 17, 2009
David Jenkins, Time Out

Occasionally marred by contrivance and a crude internal logic that doesn't bear close scrutiny, 'Frozen River' works best as a knuckle-gnawing, blue-collar genre thriller. Full Review

Mark Bourne
February 10, 2009
Mark Bourne,

Frozen River let me forget I was watching a movie, something that didn't happen often in 2008. Full Review

Rene Rodriguez
September 5, 2008
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

There are moments of poetry on display. Full Review

Amy Biancolli
August 29, 2008
Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle

It moves and it heals, finding hints of redemption in the jagged face of life. Full Review

Stephen Cole
August 29, 2008
Stephen Cole, Globe and Mail

The miracle of filmmaker Courtney Hunt's tense, carefully understated debut is that it is made better by its few flights of fancy. Full Review

Tom Long
August 29, 2008
Tom Long, Detroit News

Frozen River isn't just a good movie made by a woman; it's a good movie on anyone's terms, one of the year's best. To find hope beneath this ice, in this ugly terrain, is to dream big. Full Review

Ann Hornaday
August 28, 2008
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Made with uncommon skill and assurance, the film never succumbs to rank sentimentality, but it manages to get at the nuances of human relationships. Full Review

Bill Goodykoontz
August 28, 2008
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

Frozen River, a story of abject desperation, feels so real and immediate that it plays almost like a documentary. Full Review

Stanley Kauffmann
August 27, 2008
Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

We quickly sense that the director of this film has unusual perception, and that whatever the story and performances turn out to be, she will make the most of them. Full Review

Ty Burr
August 22, 2008
Ty Burr, Boston Globe

Frozen River does what too many independent American movies only pretend to do: Takes you to an unnoticed corner of our country and shows what it's like to actually live there. Full Review

Critic ratings and reviews powered by

Fresh (60% or more critics rated the movie positively)

Rotten (59% or fewer critics rated the movie positively)

More Like This

Click a thumb to vote on that suggestion, or add your own suggestions.

  • Winter's Bone
    Winter's Bone (98%)
  • Fargo
    Fargo (58%)
  • A Simple Plan
    A Simple Plan (60%)
  • Mean Creek
    Mean Creek (100%)


    • Lila Littlewolf: Love is the creator.

Frozen River : Watch Free on TV

Frozen River Trivia

  • (Chronicles of Narnia)What happens to the frozen river?  Answer »

Movie Quizzes

No quizzes for Frozen River. Want to create one?

Recent Lists

Most Popular Skin

No skins yet. Interested in creating one?