Film reviews

#504 – Space Trucker Bruce (2014)

Space Trucker Bruce (2014)

Film review #504

Director: Anton Doiron

SYNOPSIS: Bruce is a trucker who is hauling hog fat from earth to Titan Station near Saturn. Along the way, he picks up a hitchhiker named max, who is introduced to the trucker lifestyle.

THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Space Trucker Bruce is a 2014 science-fiction film. Set in the future where humans have colonised the solar system, we see a trucker (presumably Bruce) hauling twenty thousand tons of hog fat to Titan station in his spaceship (space…truck?). Interestingly, this is also the same opening premise of the 1996 film Space Truckers, although there is no formal connection between the two. Along the way, he picks up a “hitchhiker” named Max, whose ship is stranded. Both being a long way from civilisation, the two learn to live together as Bruce continues on his trucking journey. Along the way, the plot focuses on revealing the philosophy of the trucker lifestyle as Bruce imparts his wisdom to Max about life on the road (in space). The themes in science-fiction films are often used as an analogy for issues and settings that confront us in the present, and unsurprisingly, Space Truckers is an analogy for life on the road as a trucker, hauling goods across the land as a long and often solitary job. The analogy is about as thin as the cardboard used to make the sets, but that’s not really an issue: the focus is on revealing the story and characters with a more comedic tone, and for the most part, it accomplishes that task in a way that is not laugh-out-loud funny, but quiet mix of absurd scenarios and deadpan delivery. Despite truckers having a direction with regards to where they would be delivering to always guiding them, this film gives an insight into the in-between; the lonely drive without any contact from the beginning and end, and that’s quite an interesting juxtaposition.

A small cast of characters make up the film, with most of the runtime being dedicated to Bruce and Max (who serves as the viewer’s substitute) alone in space bonding in the loneliness of space. There’s some question regarding Bruce’s sanity after being in space for so long, but his philosophy about the trucker lifestyle and “living in the moment” makes him appear zen-like and at peace. Then again, one of the characters is a tub of sour cream that may or may not be a voice in Bruce’s (and Max’s) head, so it really is open to interpretation. A few more characters turn up later on when Bruce and Max make it closer to civilisation, but they don’t change the dynamic too much. It is interesting to see after we learn about the trucker lifestyle, how it then applies to dealing with people after reflecting on it so long in the loneliness of space, and again there’s these little changes and developments which keep the film from stagnant and aimless.

One very important thing about this film is that it is a zero-budget creation, made by essentially one man in his backyard. Nearly all of the sets are made from cardboard, and once you realise it, you can never unsee it. However, it did take me quite a while to recognise this, and that is definitely a credit to how well done these sets are made. Even though the film is restricted to two or three sets for the majority of the film, it just about pulls it off, seeing as everything is set aboard the same small ship anyway. The acting is a bit flat, but it helps get the message of the film across in a low-key way. Overall, Space Trucker Bruce is a good effort at making a film with very little budget to back it up: there’s a mixture of comedy and character study that reveals the trucker lifestyle. It may not be for everyone as it lacks some direction, and some people may not be able to overlook the flat delivery of lines and the cardboard sets, but there is a certain magic in this barebones, almost one-man production that’s equal parts comedic, absurd and self-aware to be entertaining.