F.I.L.M. of the Week (January 21, 2011)

21 01 2011

Melissa Leo seems to have emerged as the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “The Fighter.”  I wasn’t a huge fan, but if you want to see her in a performance that does deserve an Oscar, look no further than her turn in 2008’s “Frozen River,” which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.  My pick for the “F.I.L.M. of the Week,” the ultra-indie tale of how far a single mother will go to provide for her family will knock you out with its raw power.

Living along the New York-Canada border, Ray Eddy (Leo) is scrapping to get by, pulling coins out of furniture to pay the bills.  Her job at the Yankee Dollar hardly pays enough to feed her kids, and she’s often forced to resort to feeding them popcorn and Tang for multiple meals.  But she has hope enough to put down a sizable deposit for a bigger trailer, something which would substantially improve their quality of life.

However, Ray can’t pay what’s left on the trailer since a promotion at her job has yet to materialize and her husband has gone missing with some crucial cash.  Thanks to a chance encounter, she meets Lila (Misty Upham), a Mohawk Indian involved in smuggling foreigners across the border through reservation lands.  Ray has a car with a trunk big enough to fit three people, and she begins making regular runs for the money.

The movie would be just any other woman-on-the-edge movie if it weren’t for Leo’s incredible performance. She makes Ray’s desperation practically tangible with her raw and real approach to the character.  The powerhouse performance that put her on the map is still her best work, two years and potentially an Oscar win later.

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