Performances don't come much more vivid than McTeer's Oscar-nominated portrayal of contradictory single mom Mary Jo Walker. Fiercely independent, she'd sooner quit a job than bite her tongue, yet emotionally she's congenitally dependent on whichever man she's with at the time. When we catch up with her, she's throwing her worldly possessions on to the highway, picking up the first guy that comes along. Her 12-year-old, Ava (Brown), has seen it all before, yet her advice always falls on deaf ears. This engaging US indie covers similar ground to Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and the Susan Sarandon vehicle Anywhere But Here, but scores strongly with its simple, unaffected style and earthy humour. Similarly, Mary Jo's relationship with trucker Jack (played by director O'Connor) isn't caricatured: we understand what they see in each other, even if the fault lines are staring them in the face. (O'Connor wrote the script with his then wife Angela Shelton about her relationship with her mother.) The film-makers almost blow it with a tear-crunching scene featuring Sanders as Mr Right, but regain their perspective with an inspired, improvised heart to heart on female plumbing.
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