Honestly, I want to encourage you not to watch the preview for this film as I think it gives too much of what the movie is away; and in some cases (like this one) the viewer is better served going into the story without preconceived notions of where the film will take them. So don't click the link unless you absolutely have to or you just won't see the film.
Frozen River is an austere tale of hardship and it's filmed that way. In fact the print is so grainy at times one can be forgiven for thinking they are watching a vhs copy filmed off an old aerial feed. It's that bad in spots. . . but if I'm being honest. . . it was probably largely intentional. It lends a grittier almost more real sense of bleakness to the lives of the characters. It gives credence to their struggle with poverty, legality, and ultimately morality.
Melissa Leo turns in a very believable performance as Ray; a wife, mother, and employee, on the brink of losing it all despite her best efforts. The lines between right, wrong, and survival become blurred as we walk with her and Lila through dark and challenging issues of morality. At times the film does feel a bit contrived and disconnected from emotion. The fact that the film received two Oscar nominations, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly For The Screen, being one of them comes as no surprise. Writer/ Director Courtney Hunt is far from seasoned but there are seeds of enormous promise being sown in this film.
On a purely personal note I enjoyed the regional thrill of Ray and her boys excited by the prospect of going to the "Chopper". While I wouldn't say I myself was ever truly "excited" to go to the Chopper it was a nice reminder of Ontario; and though it is filmed and set in upstate New York, along the border on Mohawk territory. . .it's an area that so closely resembles my home in every way it's practically indistinguishable from Tyendinaga.
I tried to find you a nice video on youtube of Tyendinaga territory, so you could have a visual frame of reference but every link that came up (with the exception of a few squalid 2 minute drive through videos of Deseronto ) had something to do with protests, road blocks, or Shawn Brant. So instead I give you this picture of Smokin' Joe's Drive-Thru Smoke Shop. I think it's an apt choice in accordance with Frozen River's subject matter. Enjoy :)