Frozen River is a 2008 movie written and directed by Courtney Hunt and starring Melissa Leo and Misty Upham.
When her gambling-addict husband disappears with money she'd earmarked for buying a new double-wide trailer, struggling mom Ray Eddy gets pulled into the world of human trafficking alongside Lila Littlewolf, a Mohawk bingo-parlor employee seeking money to get her infant son returned to her. The two form an unlikely alliance, driving undocumented immigrants over the frozen St. Laurence River using Ray's husband's car.
This film contains examples of:
- Bittersweet Ending: Ray is arrested for smuggling, and Lila is expelled from her tribe for five years as a scapegoat. On the other hand, Lila escapes with the money and agrees to watch over Ray's kids for the four months that she's in prison, and completes the purchase of the double-wide on Ray's behalf. She also manages to take back her infant son.
- Danger Thin Ice: Ray and Lila smuggle immigrants from Canada into the US by driving them over the frozen St. Laurence River. Naturally, the ice eventually breaks and they are forced to flee their car on foot.
- The Gambling Addict: Ray's husband Troy is a terrible gambling addict. The plot is kicked off after he disappears with the family's savings.
- Oh, Crap!: When carrying a Pakistani couple across the river, Ray tosses their luggage, concerned that there might be explosive materials in there. It actually had the couple's infant son. Cue this reaction, as Ray and Lila scramble back to recover the luggage.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Ray is far from a gun expert but is, in fact, a gun owner and somewhat intelligent person. Therefore it's quite horrifying to see one scene where she's driving a car while holding someone at gunpoint in the passenger seat. Just to be clear, she has a loaded gun in her hand, with her finger on the trigger, and is steering with that hand. The gun keeps swinging wildly in the passenger's direction. It becomes hard to pay attention to the film when you're constantly waiting for someone to unintentionally blow someone else's brains out.
- Taking the Heat: When Ray and Lila are caught, Ray takes the fall for their smuggling, because as a first-time offender, she'll only do four months, whereas Lila's past would result in her doing considerably more time.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Lila is expelled from her tribe for her history of smuggling.