Friday, 12 March 2010

Frozen River - DVD - 13/3/10

Melissa Leo was Oscar nominated for her portrayal of Ray in this superb film about family and the pursuit of the American Dream. Director and writer Courtney Hunt came from "nowhere" and delivered a film and screenplay that were the match of any of the other "big" films that year and for which she also received an Oscar nomination. All of this would lead you to believe that "Frozen River" was going to be something special; and you would be absolutely right.

Ray lives with her two sons in a beaten up mobile home near a native American reservation. In the days leading up to Christmas her gambling addict husband leaves home without warning and Ray is left without the means to pay for the families new mobile home or gifts for the children. A chance encounter with Lyla, a native American, leads to a life as a people smuggler as she attempts to get the money that will secure her families future.

As an outsider my perception of the American Dream is that it has drifted away from the pursuit of education, hard work, securing a future for ones family and happiness to being the pursuit of wealth above everything else. It has become a commodity to be bought and sold by major corporations in the same way that Christmas, Easter and all manner of other important dates and ideas have. The "blingification" of the American and ho's over work and family.

Hunt delivers a film that shows that for many Americans the notion of being rich, famous and powerful is of much less importance than securing a home and putting food on the table. With Leo delivering a performance of a lifetime and one which, really, should have secured her the Oscar ahead of her more celebrated peers "Frozen River" becomes more than just a thriller or a drama it becomes a powerful social commentary on the nature of life for many Americans whose dreams are more humble than those who put the pursuit of wealth ahead of everything else.

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