Melissa Leo has a great face that looks like it’s been crumpled into a ball and hastily smoothed back out again. It gets plenty of play in "Frozen River," the debut feature from writer/director Courtney Hunt â€” the camera wanders pore-delvingly close to take in her chapped skin, the creasing around her eyes and her Sisyphean attempts to pretty up by applying mascara while still crying. Leo does as much as she can with the role of Ray Eddy, who works at a dollar store in upstate New York, dreams of trading in her single-wide trailer for a double-wide, obtains her TV from Rent-2-Own, feeds her two kids meals of Tang and popcorn and likes waving around her gun and shooting things, including the trailers of others and the foot of her gambling-addicted hubby, who’s fled with all of the family’s savings before the film begins. How many white trash stereotypes can one woman contain? Ray starts up a tense partnership with a sullen Mohawk woman (Misty Upham) on the nearby reservation, and the two drive illegal immigrants across the winter ice from Canada. "Frozen River" is adapted from a short, and you can see the promise in it and its world of rundown desperation. In its expanded form, though, it’s a scattering of unbelievable elements â€” included a nigh-unforgivable one involving an infant imperiled by a combination of racism and a sudden impulse of citizenship â€” and a perspective that flirts with condescension.
"Frozen River" currently has no U.S. distribution.