Diane Ford (Michelle Monaghan) has her life all figured out.  She wants to be her own boss, and answer to nobody.  She started driving rigs, the big eighteen-wheelers, and worked her way into owning her own (almost paid up).  She also owns her own little house, though it’s only a one-bedroom (also almost paid up).  When she was eighteen, she had a son by a ballplayer that she briefly dated, but when they broke up, he took the boy.  That was eleven years ago.
            She lives for the moment.  She drives all day, and beds in her cab at night.  At a truck stop, another driver might catch her eye.  She may have a beer with him, and she might even go to bed with him.  But immediately afterwards, following the obligatory cigarette, she’s off again.  Country radio suits her just fine.  She pretty much lives the life, especially the songs the men sing. 
            She’s not into idle chitchat.  She swaggers when she walks quickly, which is most of the time.  She dresses casually, and she has a tattoo on her shoulder which she’s not afraid to show off.  She doesn’t act nice to strangers just to be a nice person.  Her world contains no children.  No family, either.  Most of the time, it’s just her and her cigarettes and the long, winding road, stretching endlessly in front of her.  Which is just how she likes it.
            Her world drastically changes one night when her son shows up her front door.  It seems his Dad, Leonard, is in the hospital.  “The Girlfriend” Jenny (Joey Lauren Adams) says it’s just temporary, that Lee (Benjamin Bratt) should be out soon, but she has to go to her mother’s funeral, and there’s just nobody else to take him.
            Peter (Jimmy Bennett) doesn’t want to be there, any more than Diane wants him there.  She treats him like a great inconvenience, someone who’s always in the way.  He’s been told all his life that she’s a tramp, and tells her so.  Neither makes any attempt to sugarcoat their mutual animosity.  Of course, we all know where this is headed.  Reluctantly, almost despite themselves, they begin to develop a grudging respect for each other.  (He’s just as much a loner as she is.  He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t whine, he doesn’t talk too much, and her personal needs are minimal.)  But when she begins to perceive the same resolute melancholy in him that has been her constant companion, she begins to stir out of her self-imposed torpor.  There’s more to life than just making it through the day.  There’s more to toughness than pretending you don’t need anybody or anything.  And you don’t realize how lonely it is to be alone until suddenly you are presented with an alternative.
            Michelle Monaghan is well-suited for this lone wolf, unsympathetic role.  We don’t understand her lack of maternal instinct any more than she doesn’t understand it, but somehow we don’t resent her for it.  It’s just the way she is.  Yes, it’s about building a relationship, but we don’t start with zero, we begin with a negative, because of all the neglect and indifference, and guilt and anger, to overcome.  Maybe, by the end, we can get to a place where we can start even.  But there will have to be some changes.
            “Trucker” doesn’t boast a lot of pretty scenery or fancy costumes.  No high-tech cinematic gadgetry.  This film could have been made decades ago, or could even be a play, it’s so intensely about the characters.  But it will engage you, and perhaps at a level you did not expect.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas