The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
There's one of those perfect moments in "Trucker" when I'm thinking, This is the moment to end! Now! Fade to black! And the movie ends. It is the last of many absolutely right decisions by the first-time writer-director James Mottern, who began by casting two actors who bring his story to strong emotional life. Both of them show they're gifted and intelligent artists who only needed, as so many do in these discouraging times, a chance to reveal their deep talents.
Michelle Monaghan was on the brink of inhabiting forever the thankless role of the good-looking, plucky female in action movies about men ("Mission: Impossible III"). She was excellent in "Gone Baby Gone," and here she confirms her talent. Jimmy Bennett, who was 11 or 12 at the time of shooting, has been good in heavy-duty projects before ("Orphan") and played the young Captain Kirk in "Star Trek" (2009), but here shows a subtlety and command of tone that is remarkable. (It's time for him to start billing himself as James. He'll be relieved when he's 20.) Together these actors create an abrasive relationship that sidesteps all sentimentality, in a film that correctly ends when a lesser film would have added half an hour of schmaltz.
Monaghan is Diane Ford, a trucker who just paid off her own rig. She's 30-ish, cold, hard-drinking, promiscuous, a loner. Bennett plays her son, Peter. She left him with his father Len (Benjamin Bratt) soon after his birth, has stayed away, doesn't like kids -- or men, either, although she uses them. One man (Nathan Fillion) has been her best friend for four years, but that involves getting drunk together and never having sex.
Len gets sick. Colon cancer. He's been living for years with Jenny (Joey Lauren Adams), who now needs time to care for him. It's up to Diane to look after the kid. She doesn't want anything to do with him. "Just for a few weeks," Jenny pleads. Just until Len gets better. Sure.