August 29, 2008, - 1:29 pm
Weekend Box Office: “Frozen River” Accurately Depicts Indian Tribes’ Alien Smuggling, Possible Consequences
By Debbie Schlussel
**** Read My Review of “Traitor” Here. ****
“Frozen River” is not your average left-wing arthouse movie about the underclass and working class in America.
It is that, but it’s more. With no name actors, the movie focuses on a topic I’ve written about and which doesn’t get enough attention–border Indian tribes and their involvement in smuggling illegal aliens across the border. As I’ve noted, Indian tribes on the border of New York and Canada–as in this movie–also helped Hezbollah in their cigarette smuggling scams.
I also liked that this movie showed the terrible consequences that might happen (but, sadly, don’t happen enough) to those who engage in alien smuggling into America. In this movie, the consequences are tragic and the message is good: Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
The movie is also quite illustrative of two other issues, which never see the light of day, Native American racism against Whites and the inability of Border Patrol and police to have any significant police power on tribal lands. That’s often the problem in enforcing our borders.
Still, I had my problems with this movie. And that’s other than the fact that it’s extremely depressing and mostly dark.
While we can’t deny that there are many working-class people in America, struggling to survive, this movie makes it look as if they must break the law and engage in activities like jeopardizing our borders, in order to survive.
I also didn’t like the conventional narrative of the loser husband/father who leaves the family in jeopardy and despair.
Melissa Leo plays Ray Eddy, a working-class woman employed part-time at a dollar store. The mother of two, her husband is a gambling addict, who left her and her sons, taking their rent money to gamble in Atlantic City. As a result, she can’t afford to pay for the family’s double-wide trailer, which they need to live in (they’re stuck in a smaller unit).
Looking for her husband and his car at a tribal bingo hall, Ray finds the car, but not her husband. The thief, it turns out, is another single mother–an American Indian woman who smuggles illegal aliens into the country over tribal lands and frozen lakes. Soon, they become unwilling business partners in crime.
One scene I found interesting was when they smuggle in Pakistani aliens. Ray doesn’t want to do it because she fears that they could be Islamic terrorists. But she gets through that fear in a second and takes them anyway . . . for the money. That’s the ethics of illegal alien smugglers. They don’t care about America’s borders. They just want the money. In the same scene, Ray dumps a bag the Pakistanis are carrying, saying it could be a bomb. Um, she doesn’t think they can get the components to build a bomb and create one from scratch, once they’re on American soil?
In this movie, those things are shown to mock rightful American suspicions of Muslim illegal aliens from places like Pakistan. But despite trying, the movie can’t get away from the fact that these are valid concerns.
That’s why I liked this movie–not for the messages it was trying to send, but for most of the messages it did send:
To wit, that smuggling aliens into America is a bad idea and bad businesss. And the people we think are so worthy or our respect and pity–American Indians and down-on-their-luck Americans–are often involved in this very unrespectable sleazy operation.