Box art for Frozen River

Frozen River


Strapped for money and having been deserted by her husband, working class Ray (Melissa Leo), teams up with Lila (Misty Upham) to smuggle illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River from Canada to the U.S. in the trunk of a Dodge Spirit.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 15
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
0 out of 5
3 out of 5

Superb indie drama features great acting, smart script.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film, which earned actress Melissa Leo an Oscar nomination for Best Actress as well as a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, is a serious, strong, and well-made drama loaded with topics worthy of serious discussion, as well as some harsh language. Parents also need to know that the film is not shy about depicting illegal activity and working-class poverty.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the complex circumstances and characters of the film. What drives Ray to become a human smuggler? What lies behind Lila's decision and actions? Families can also talk about the economic challenges faced by the lead characters -- why is it that this kind of real-world challenge is so infrequently seen in films? Finally, families can also talk about the privilege Ray has even as a poor working mother -- as Lila notes, the cops won't pull her over, "... 'cause you're white. ..."

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 26
    see all Frozen River reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

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

- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle, Friday, August 29, 2008


- Andrew O'Hehir,, Tuesday, July 6, 2010

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

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Thursday, August 28, 2008

Audience Reviews

2 stars

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

- arashxak, Sunday, March 21, 2010

4 stars

Desperation knows no borders.

- ScoopOnline, Wednesday, December 16, 2009

3 stars

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 bit hackneyed.

- gor41, Saturday, October 24, 2009