Michelle Monaghan’s charm has always been a way of playing characters at a quizzical-leaning-to-wry remove. You’d hope the (cinematic) world for someone who could hold the screen alongside Robert Downey, Jr. in a movie like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Such is not the fates: hoping to avoid a life of sidekick roles in movies like “Eagle Eye,” and her fine turn in “Gone Baby Gone,” a promising actress like Monaghan often takes the indie route, playing roles contrary to expectations. Written and directed by James Mottren, a past producer of the Slamdance Film Festival, “Trucker” certainly fits that bill, with Monaghan playing Diane, a truck driver with a streak for independent living who’s suddenly saddled with an unwanted 11-year-old son she’s neglected for a decade. Diane’s not afraid of sex or hard drinking, but the difficult boy is another story. The performances by her circle of friends and acquaintances is strong, even Benjamin Bratt as the father, stricken with cancer. But this vehicle is Monaghan’s. Mychael Danna’s score is a strong complement to downbeat cinematography by Lawrence Sher (“The Hangover,” “Garden State”). With Nathan Fillion, Joey Lauren Adams, Jimmy Bennett, Brandon Hanson, Dennis Hayden, Bryce Johnson, Franklin Dennis Jones, Matthew Lawrence. 93m. (Ray Pride)
“Trucker” opens Friday at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming. Previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/RayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)