Mr. Movie

'Frozen River' a big movie with a small budget

Writer/director Courtney Hunt takes her characters on a slow, methodical and fascinating march toward disaster. Frozen River is nothing fancy. The story is as sparse and cold as the film's title. Two women with nothing, yet everything in common, share a dark, bleak, hopeless future.

The worthless husband of the white woman abandons her and the kids just when they are just about to get their dream home. She needs cash in a hurry to save her investment and Christmas. The Mohawk woman can't see or have custody of her only child. She wants the kid back.

With cold reality closing in on them faster than the frozen New York winter, the desperate women get a job smuggling illegals into the U.S. from Canada by driving them across the frozen St. Lawrence River.

Hunt proves you don't need a big budget, or a big star to create a masterpiece. Leo's determined, yet doomed performance was the best acting of 2008. It got her notice by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and sciences and an Oscar nomination. If more people saw this one, she might have taken home the statue.

Rated R for mature themes, language. It plays Friday, June 18 only at the Battelle Auditorium at 8:00 p.m.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.

4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.