Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
After her gambling-addicted husband abandons her and her family with their savings in tow, Melissa Leo finds herself strapped for cash to pay for the new pre-fabricated house that she’s been promising her kids. A chance encounter with a woman on the nearby Upper New York State reservation (Misty Upham) results in Leo discovering that there is money to be made in illegally smuggling immigrants from Canada to the United States across the frozen St. Lawrence River, an opportunity she takes full advantage of in the hopes of bettering her life for herself and her children. The moral quandaries that result, not to mention the complicated relationship that develops between these two women who each have their reasons to be harshly bitter to each other, makes for a fascinating, atmospheric drama that ranks up there with the highest-quality gems produced by American independent cinema. Courtney Hunt, directing a feature for the first time, creates tension, character depth and a terrifying mood in a mere 90 minutes that grab hold of you and never let you go. Leo is astounding in the lead role, making downtrodden heroism out of her lead debut. This one is well worth your time.
Directed by Courtney Hunt
Screenplay by Courtney Hunt
Cinematography by Reed Morano
Production Design by Inbal Weinberg
Costume Design by Abby O’Sullivan
Film Editing by Kate Williams
Academy Award Nominations
Best Actress in a Leading Role (Melissa Leo as “Ray Eddy”)
Best Writing (Original Screenplay) (Courtney Hunt)