One of those all-together "rare" films that truly feels independent, in both style and the way in which it allows its actors' performances to really stand out, "FROZEN RIVER" is now available on both dvd and blu-ray from SONY. Melissa Leo gives an outstanding, OSCAR NOMINATED performance as Ray Eddie, a beleaguered, hard working mom. When her loser/gambler husband deserts the family, she's left fighting against odds, and ultimately having to resort to criminal activity in the attempt to afford the payment on the trailer she and her sons inhabit.
"FROZEN RIVER" moves at a slower, deliberate pace than most main-stream films, but it's never dull, and often bold in its focus. Few films focus on the plight of the families such as depicted here, even though they're all around us. While Leo is great, so is everyone in the film. Writer/director Courtney Hunt has crafted a script and film that never sentimentalizes its characters, and instead, reveals their true strength and decency, amidst the harshest of circumstances. "FROZEN RIVER" is a great film, but it's also a brave and provocative one as well!
SONY has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for dvd(16:9 enhanced) and blu-ray(1080p/AVC MPEG-4). The harsh, wintry setting of the film's location inhibits it from being "colorful," with whites and grays standing out most, and giving much of the film's landscape, a muted color look. Still, when colors do emerge, they look completely natural. Shot in high-def, on blu-ray, most of the imagery reveals terrific depth, and a majority of "jump-off-the-screen" moments, without any grain, whatsoever! It's a great looking transfer, without a lot of flash, and feeling completely natural. The dvd also handles its lack of color vibrancy, well. But, without the resolution, most of the imagery falls flat, as well as muted. It's never a bad looking dvd, but the color scheme and lack of higher resolution, make it appear just average in comparison to the blu-ray.
SONY has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for blu-ray and Dolby Digital 5.1 for dvd. With this being a dialogue-driven film, surround effects are minimal. Even minor ambient effects are scarce, and barely detectable on the standard dolby digital mix. While there are some discrete effects delegated towards the front soundstage, only the dynamic range of the lossy mix, offers the dynamic range that can impress one with the subtle effects offered. The dvd's dolby digital mix makes on have to increase the volume to even detect some of these ambient effects, impressive on blu-ray.
Extras include a commentary with the writer/director and producer, but it's sadly, very dull, offering almost no insight into the film's themes, and the technical aspects of the film's production come across so dryly, it's hard to sit through.
Several trailers are included for this and other SONY releases.