Movie Review: Trucker (2009)

Michelle Monaghan and Jimmy Bennett in Trucker

Photo: Monterey Media

Picked up and added to the release schedule out of the blue, it seems the primary reason James Mottern’s Trucker is making the rounds is an attempt by Monterey Media to score some award season attention for its lead star Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III). Playing a big-rig truck driver leading a life on the road with a past that will soon come back into play, Monaghan performs well enough in the role, but to assume it’s going to propel her into the Oscar race is a reach. Although it will make sure she isn’t forgotten in the coming years should she continue down this path.

Monaghan plays Diane, a young and attractive truck driver we first meet in a cheap hotel room having sex with a man we don’t see after the opening couple of minutes. This is the life Diane leads and it’s a life of no worries and she obviously seems to enjoy it. She has her own house and has just paid off her truck and owns it outright. When she returns home she finds comfort in friendship with Runner (Nathan Fillion) and has hardly a care in the world.

As always is the case in these movies, her world is about to change when Peter, her estranged 11-year-old son, is dropped off at her doorstep. The reunion comes ten years after she left him and is cause for part of the film’s missteps. There’s obvious tension and confusion, but for what seems like an effort to save time there is hardly an inkling of a “feeling out” period. The two fall into instant arguments and begin living their lives as if they never skipped a dysfunctional beat.

The emotional ups-and-downs are rather rudimentary from start to finish, but both Monaghan and Jimmy Bennett playing Peter really turn in solid performances even if Peter’s personality and maturity level seem to be well above the age of 11.

However, despite any narrative missteps along the way I really liked the film’s final scene. The story is condensed a great deal and we must accept that certain life changes take place over a short period of time for this film to work, but if you have opened yourself to this film in any way I find it hard to believe you won’t be affected by the finale.

Trucker serves as Mottern’s first feature film, both directorial and as a screenwriter, and it shows definite promise. He was able to wrangle some top talent and managed to gain a respectable amount of notoriety for Monaghan in what is her best performance to date. I will, however, make a case that Monaghan has been turning in solid performances for some times such as her excellent work in North Country, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Gone Baby Gone. She’s been turning in good work for the past four years, but, as always, it takes a more depressing performance to begin brewing Oscar attention.

GRADE: B-

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