After undervalued supporting turns in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, North Country and Gone Baby Gone, dainty girl-next-door type Michelle Monaghan finally and deservedly snags a star vehicle to show off her chops. Against the roadside Americana of writer-director James Mottern's well-shot desert drama Trucker, Monaghan flips the bird to vanity as a hard-drinking, promiscuous, blithe and ballsy big-rig driver named Diane, and her performance is transformative enough to forgive Mottern's boilerplate narrative. It's the negligent parent and estranged child forced-reunion tale: Diane's long-hauler lifestyle is literally slowed down when her angry eleven-year-old son, Peter (Jimmy Bennett), gets dumped in her lap after baby-daddy Len (Benjamin Bratt) is hospitalized with cancer. There may as well be a road sign announcing Diane's transformation from reckless loner to diligent mother, but it's a smooth ride thanks to Monaghan and an impressive ensemble. Bennett, last seen in Shorts, proves one of the more talented, least cloyingly precocious child actors today, and the always-charming Nathan Fillion continues his run as a married local who can barely suppress his feelings for bar buddy Diane. Trucker opens December 11.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.