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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2008!
Starring: Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Fillion, Benjamin Bratt, Jimmy Bennett, Joey Lauren Adams
Female truck driver Diane lives the life she wants, on the open road with no attachments to anyone or anything other than her truck and her by-the-mile paycheck. She's stuck with a tough decision when her 11-year old son (who she abandoned 10 years ago) is pawned off on her when his father comes down with terminal cancer.
You know I almost became a truck driver myself about a year and a half ago? After much consideration, I decided against it. Being stuck alone in the cab of a semi driving cross country for very little pay and eating at rest stops... doesn't sound like my idea of a good time. But then, I guess I didn't figure on the potential for one night stands in sleazy motels!
Diane Ford is a long distance truck driver. The opening sequence has her in a one night stand with some kid she picked up at a bar (played by Matthew Lawrence). This sets the tone for her character, right away, that she's essentially a guy with boobs: using members of the opposite sex for a good time and leaving them before any actual bonding needs to take place.Up until this point, the only real drama in her life is that her drinking buddy and friend (who's married and played by Nathan Fillion) is in love with her and it's complicating the friendship because of her own mixed feelings for him.
The drama grows, though, when Diane gets word that her ex-husband that she left 10 years ago is in the hospital going through aggressive cancer treatments. She probably could just ignore this fact, except for the fact that he's made arrangements for their 11 year old son to live with her during this time.
Diane freaks over the situation. She doesn't want to raise a kid and is clearly not suited to do so with her life of always being on the road. In the end, she gets stuck with the boy when she can find nobody else to take him.
Due to the circumstances, she ends up having to take her son (who is a total pain in the neck and refuses to listen to her parental authority) with her on a delivery trip to Kansas City. The two are stuck with one another in the close confines of the truck cab and begrudgingly (and surprising to each of them) begin to bond. The question becomes, if the boy's dad dies, will she take custody of the child or have him given away into foster care?
This movie got a LOT of buzz in the indie film world when it came out a couple of years ago. It won 5 awards at 4 film festivals, was listed as one of the 10 best independent films of 2009 by Roger Ebert, and even got high praise when it screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. Not bad for a movie by a first time director with a budget of under $1.5M.
The characters and their arcs in this movie are fantastic. They are what makes this a watchable movie. Diane and her son, Peter (played by Jimmy Bennett from “No Ordinary Family”) are two of the best characters I've seen in a long while. They both have these massively dynamic arcs both individually and together. They are both these pig headed, take no shit from nobody, spit in the face of authority assholes! It's CLEAR they are mother and son! But, of course, at first, they can't stand each other. Watching them grow both as individuals (especially Diane), as well as growing to become something of a family (even if a little on the dysfunctional side) is something beautiful to behold. At times they are funny together, and at other times their dynamic just breaks your heart. This movie is a character piece, and the characters are spectacular.
Sadly, the characters and their arcs are the ONLY good thing about this film.
Admittedly, the acting is pretty good. The character dynamics might not work as well if the acting weren't good. Are the performances Oscar-worthy? Not at all. But then, maybe... after all, Sandra Bullock won for her so-so performance in “The Blind Side”, so keeping that in mind perhaps Michelle Monaghan should have at least gotten a nod.
So I'll rephrase my early statement. “Sadly, the characters and their arcs, and the actors that portray them, are the ONLY good thing about this film.”
The story itself that the characters find themselves in is boring. It's one we've seen in one form or another many times before, and the only “new” thing brought to the table in this case is that the lead female is a truck driver... something we've not really ever seen before for anyone more important than a supporting or bit role.
The pacing drags on and on. This movie is 90 minutes long but, with the small amount of things that actually occur in this film it would have been a more powerful piece as a 15-20 minute short film.
The cinematography is uninspired. There aren't any interesting shots, and in some cases the shots are terrible! For instance, there's one shot where for OVER 90 SECONDS, we watch from afar as Diane's truck drives through a residential area. Really? Do we really need to watch the truck, which is about half a mile away, drive half a dozen blocks? Again, this would have been better as a short film!
So while the characters were interesting and their arcs made the story, the rest of the story (and really, the rest of the movie) left something to be desired.
I give “Trucker” a 2 our of 5.
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