August 1, 2008

Women at the Box Office This Weekend

Frozen River is an unexpected gem of a movie. I loved it as much as I've loved anything in a long, long time. I first heard about it after it won the best feature prize at Sundance, and was intrigued and excited to see it. It tells the story of two poor, desperate women (one white and one Mohawk) who smuggle illegal immigrants across a frozen river from Canada to the US in order to help their families survive.

A couple of days before Christmas, Ray Eddy's (Melissa Leo) gambler of a husband has run off with the money she was saving for a new double wide trailer. Her sense of defeat is palpable. What she wants is simple: to give her kids a safe place to live since the trailer they currently live in is falling apart. She is desperate to get cash and meets Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham) who introduces her to smuggling, a dangerous way to make some fast cash. Each journey across the ice is harrowing never knowing if the ice will hold them. Their last run goes bad and they are forced to rely on each other and this bizarre relationship they have formed.

Melissa Leo is an actress you have seen in many movies (21 Grams) and TV shows (Homicide: Life on the Streets) that she just blends into the background -- which is a good thing. She's been the perfect supporting character. Incredibly, this is the first time that she has carried a film, and her performance is outstanding and Oscar worthy. What I particularly love about her is that she is uses her face and age fearlessly to relay Ray's emotions and desperation.

Other films in Theatres
Falling for Grace- opens in Des Moines
Mamma Mia!
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
Brick Lane
Sex and the City