Ray (Melissa Leo) I want my half. You hear me; I want my half!
Lila (Misty Upham): I’ll give you the money if you give me the car.
Ray: No way.
Lila: The money’s gone.
Ray: Then I want to get more of those Chinese.
At a glance:
Melissa Leo earned an Academy Best Actress nomination for her portrayal of a desperate mom who turns to people smuggling to make a better life for her family
For Ray (Melissa Leo), her dreams of moving up from poverty are squashed by her low-paying job and a husband that gambles away their savings. Pressured by a 15 year-old son who wants to drop out of school to work, and tricked into a situation from which she can’t escape, she turns to smuggling illegal aliens from Canada via a frozen river break in the border through a Mohawk reservation. She forms an unlikely partnership with a young Mohawk woman, Lila (Misty Upham). Indie film is all about the characters and the locations, providing a glimpse at life on the reservation and how the ‘res’ world and ‘white’ world intersect. The realistic settings and dialogue often make this feel more like a documentary than fiction. The almost-perfect script is weakened just a bit by a couple of dumbed-down character moments introduced to further the plot. Still, the locations are unique, and writer/director Courtney Hunt shows wonderful brevity and effective storytelling. Melissa Leo earned a Best Actress nomination for her work.
Other reviewers said:
"Hunt, in a confident debut, grafts a crackerjack thriller with a fascinating cultural study of the uneasy relationship between tribal members and their white neighbors."
-Sean Means (Salt Lake Tribune)
"Hunt has keenly observed the details of impoverished rural life."
-Lawrence Toppman (Charlotte Observer)
"The stories of women are so disparaged -- or worse, ignored -- in our culture unless they have something to do with pleasing men, but here's one that demands to be seen."
-MaryAnn Johanson (Flick Filosopher)
"Leo gives the kind of performance that's easy to overlook because it doesn't have any Big Moments...so fully inhabited that it never crosses your mind that you're not watching a real woman."
-Tim Brayton (Antagony & Ecstasy)
Interview with writer/director Courtney Hunt
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