It’s just as well I didn’t do any research into Prime Mover before attending the screening because if I had known that this was a movie about love and trucks, I might have been tempted to give it a miss. It would have been a pity too, because Prime Mover is a wonderful romantic drama.
Thomas (Michael Dorman) dreams of one day owning his own rig (this was at first a stumbling block for this reviewer, a person who cares so little about matters mechanical that he owns a 20 year old metallic beige sedan). He spends his days detailing the trucks at his father’s workshop in between racking up his driving hours in preparation for his truck licence. He meets Melissa at the petrol station across the road and this sets off sparks instantly. Their whirlwind romance would be perfect but for Thomas’s ambition, which has the unfortunate tendency to get in the way of real life.
It’s more than a little frustrating to watch Thomas and Melissa’s lives go from bad to worse, all because of Thomas’ determination to become the type of man he feels he should. To make matters worse, he’s told from the very outset by all of the people around him that his ‘plan’ has some very serious flaws – they even provide him with sensible alternatives. This dissatisfaction is perhaps the only flaw in this quite charming film.
Dorman is great in the central role. He fuses idealism with grim determination and in the process manages to make a person like me care about driving trucks – no small feat. Emily Barclay is absolutely perfect, as per usual. This is a performer that never ceases to amaze – even in films which fail in other departments, she’s always pushing for perfection. Here she plays Melissa with a naivety and confidence that’s disarming from her very first moment on screen. Place Melissa alongside Celia (In My Father’s Den) and Katrina (Suburban Mayhem) and you’ll find the three startlingly different.
The supporting cast are great even if they’re a little too recognisable. Ben Mendelsohn plays fellow truckie and negative influence Johnnie in what must be his 3,000th Australian film whilst William McInnes plays a much nicer colleague, Phil.
David Caesar imbues his film with exquisitely animated fantasy sequences that put a lot of bigger-budgeted films to shame, but above all this is a story with heart. There aren’t a lot of surprises and we’ve seen this narrative before (perhaps not in such an obscure setting) but it’s facilitated by a script that moves gracefully through the romance without ever disrespecting the characters (as opposed to some of the romantic comedies that Mark has seen in recent years.)Rating: