VSL// A terrific performance from ’09 you probably haven’t seen

Actress Michelle Monaghan has been relegated to playing pretty sidekicks alongside big stars or the object of affection in dumb romantic comedies (see: Mission: Impossible III; Made of Honor), yet showing the occasional flash of brilliance that pointed to potential (Gone Baby Gone). With Trucker (available on DVD 1/5), she’s finally found a worthy role that showcases just what a fine actress she is.

Written and directed by James Mottern, Trucker features Monaghan as one very hard-to-love protagonist. She’s a lone wolf truck driver with a taste for whiskey and one-night stands, and we learn that she abandoned her husband and infant son more than a decade earlier. Due to a couple of beyond-her-control twists, however, said son is deposited on her doorstep. The movie wisely doesn’t cave to clichéd Hollywood conventions and tearful mother-son reunions. It’s unsentimental, and unpredictable. And it’s totally worth a look to see Monaghan’s standout performance, which is perhaps the most surprising thing of all.

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VSL// A terrific performance from ’09 you probably haven’t seen