I had the esteemed pleasure of attending the New York Premiere of first-time director James Mottern's film Trucker starring Michelle Monaghan. To make even more pleasurable was sitting next to James' father and having him tell me how he paid for his ticket to support his son. I share this for a realization of what James' family conveyed and how closely related it is to his film; a working class family never forgetting where they came from. Trucker tells the story of Diane Ford (Monaghan), a young female, independent truck driver living life effortlessly and freely. All seems going to plan or lack there of until her estranged son (Jimmy Bennett) is dropped off on her doorstep due to his father's recent diagnosis of cancer. It is this time where we find Diane's world is turned upside down. Responsibility and the maternal instinct, two important things that have laid dormant in Diane's mind for sometime are swiftly reactivated. Along with this new found purpose, all the other elements that have inhabited her life for ten years are rattled; her awkward relationship with her friend Runner (Nathan Fillion), her ailing ex Leonard (Benjamin Bratt), and his new love in his life Jenny (Joey Lauren Adams). What Mottern succeeds in his narrative his a brave and sensible character study of a woman who has withdrew herself from "real" human emotion. Not as profound as Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler from 2008, but perhaps a simpler tale, one that doesn't require too much of the viewer. For a good chunk of the picture the young Jimmy Bennett does some marvelous work, perhaps the best child performance of the year thus far. Unfortunately Mottern's writing of the young Peter is often stale and unnatural, giving him far too much credit for an eleven year old boy. Though I can admire the work considerably, what I loved about it, I ultimately turned on somewhere within the 90 minute running time. Michelle Monaghan on the other hand gives her most personal and powerful performance of her career. Her dedication to Diane is some of the finest work displayed on screen this year and is surely to be in serious consideration for an Oscar nomination. Monaghan devotes her mind and heart into one of the most unlikable characters and demands our respect and attention, something not easily attained by an actor. Her screen chemistry with Jimmy Bennett is some of the most natural and beautiful scenes seen in quite sometime, despite it being filled anger and acrimony. Despite Monaghan being the best chances of the film to garner awards consideration this season, the unsung hero is Nathan Fillion who gives the most tender and heart warming supporting turn of the year thus far. As I'm sure I might be in the minority for the praise of this actor, I feel inclined to give a superb performance its proper due. I admire it greatly. Other strong aspects of the picture lie in the cinematography of Lawrence Sher is should find himself with an Independent Spirit Award mention this year as well. The film is definitely worth a watch and as it may not fit well with everyone, you have to admire the attempt nonetheless. Michelle Monaghan and Nathan Fillion give some of the best works of the year and it's always great to see the birth of a writer/director like James Mottern and where he could go in his career. Trucker is definitely worth the watch. ***/****
A trucker, leading a life free of depth and on the way to nowhere, is forced to make a decision about her aggressive loner 11-year-old son whom she openly deserted ten years previously.
September 26, 2020