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