In the space of a few hours, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet, and Awards Daily‘s Ryan Adams have suddenly seized on the notion of Trucker‘s Michelle Monaghan being this year’s Melissa Leo — an out-of-the-blue Best Actress contender for an allegedly exceptional performance as a negligent mom coping with an estranged son.
Do these guys have the same dope dealer? There are more than a couple indications that Trucker ain’t no Frozen River, and that it may be no more than an okay-but-no-cigar thing. And without the springboard of great reviews, Monaghan — however good she may be as hard-livin’ truck driver Diane Ford — hasn’t a snowball’s chance.
Trucker is an ’08 film that couldn’t land a usual-suspects distributor after playing the Tribeca and Austin film festivals 16 and 10 months ago, respectively. If it had any real mojo wouldn’t someone other than Monterey Media, which releases crap, have picked it up? Wouldn’t it have played at least a few other respected festivals? Wouldn’t Trucker (which opens on 10.9) have screened for at least some critics by now? I haven’t heard zip about it from anyone.
And wouldn’t Monaghan have found a respected champion other than the Hollywood Reporter‘s Stephen Farber, a solid critic known for dispensing occasional easy-lay raves? He wrote that Monaghan’s performance as a selfish blue-collar woman suddenly saddled with an estranged young son “elicits the same exhilarating sense of discovery that surrounded Sally Field‘s breakthrough in Norma Rae.”
Fine, but Variety‘s John Anderson said that Monaghan “has trouble finding a rhythm in the dialogue, or any sustained emotional plausibility in a film that relies on character-driven moments rather than narrative momentum. Like a runaway tractor-trailer, Trucker is carrying [Monaghan] directly from irresponsible to maternally alert. You can’t stop it. You can see it on the horizon as soon as the movie starts. What’s missing from the payload is surprise.”
Trucker has 13 producers and exec producers. Thirteen! That in itself spells trouble.
Trucker was directed and written by James Mottern. It costars Nathan Fillion, Benjamin Bratt, Joey Lauren Adams (alarm buzzer!), Jimmy Bennett.
I feel for Monagahn wanting to snag a strong role for herself and kick herself up to a new level and all, but Gran Shaggy Poo says we ain’t goin’ for it. Set up some NY and LA screenings and let’s see how Trucker plays…fine. But until that happens the Monaghan hoo-hah stops here.
Sidenote: In his 4.28.08 review Anderson described Monaghan as “elfin.” Except a Google search says she’s either 5’7″ or 5’8″. That’s not elfin — that’s par for the course. Ellen Page is the current standard for Hollywood elfin. Next to Page Monaghan towers.