Every so often there comes along a little indie film that makes attempts at gravitas that is far beyond it’s reach, but, at the very least, allows its leads to shine. Like 2003′s Monster, or 2006′s Sherrybaby. These films themselves fail, their only saving grace being outstanding performances by Charlize Theron, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. James Mottern’s Trucker happens to be one just like those: uneven and shallow, with fantastic performance by Michelle Monaghan that carries the whole thing.
The plot falls around a trucker named Diane (Monaghan). She’s fiercely independent, choosing her profession because of the solitary and autonomous lifestyle it affords her. Her married neighbor and closest friend Runner (Nathan Fillion) is crazy about her, and she about him, but they keep their friendship platonic. Diane’s life is upset when, now follow me here, her son, whom she hasn’t seen since he was a baby, is dropped off on her doorstep by her ex’s girlfriend. Her ex Leonard (Benjamin Bratt) has colon cancer. It’s real bad. The girlfriend (Joey Lauren Adams), who has agreed to watch the boy while Leonard is in the hospital, has to go away to her mother’s funeral for a month, and Diane is stuck with this stranger whom she abandoned.
The plot basically consists of Diane’s son calling her a bitch a lot, but the two, through lots of shared experiences (he stops a man raping her, she beats up a couple of kids who knocked him down). It’s some really cliche stuff. Seriously.
This is Mottern’s first foray into film. He wrote the script as well as directed. His skills behind the camera are overshadowed by the kitchy plot. It’s impossible to say whether there’s real talent there. The cast as a whole performs adequately, except for Bratt whose small role is stiff and poorly written. Fillion actually performs above average, something I haven’t seen him do before. But, of course, all the praise should go to Monaghan who deserves and Oscar nom for this gutsy performance. She even learned to drive a ‘big rig’ for the role (which was original to go to Demi Moore). If that’s not dedication, what is? The film is a melodramatic joke, but I’d still rather see Monaghan in stuff like this rather than Eagle Eye.