The movie premise is very simple, but it works. It tells the tale of a book author, which after a public speaking event is stranded on the road, and brutally raped and left for dead.
Told entirely from Tess's (Maria Bello; A History of Violence, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)'s point of view, as well as from her internal psyche which she projects into the world as her famous book "Murder She Wrote" character and her inanimate GPS "Tom", this story unfold at a frantic pace.
While this film adds horror and thriller elements to the Lifetime channel, it luckily doesn't stray far from the channels premise of strong determined women. After showing the brutal rape of Tess (which might cause some views to cringe from the screen for a while) it dives into how Tess tries to pull herself together and take control back of her life.
The hectic pace and style of directing by Mikael Salomon (Alias, Rome) truly helps create the panic and then helplessness that Tess feels after being raped. At some points throughout the film one might wonder what is reality and what is fantasy, as the lines are very blurred, almost as if you are watching a David Cronenberg film (Naked Lunch, eXistenZ).
Maria Bello's superior performance as she pours her heart and soul into the role is also essential in creating this frantic helpless/empowered mood of the film. During the horrific rape scene she truly gives the viewers a gut wrenching feeling on what this kind of act does to our society and the women who endure it, and then the struggle she endures trying to pick up the pieces of her life afterwards.
Aside from the amazing directing by Salomon and Bello's performance, the supporting cast (most without any actual story names) do a great job as well including Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck. Look Who's Talking), Jennifer Kid (Falcon Beach, The Dresden Files), the rock star John Jett, the head of the library book club, Ann Dowd (The Leftovers, Masters of Sex), and the frightening professional baseball player turned actor Will Harris (In Time, Sky High). This cast of characters fleshes out Tess's world as well as some of them being very big players on what is happening in her life.
Big Driver is an excellent film that expands Lifetime's offerings on its station. Be forewarned the film is not for the weak of stomach or young children. It deals with the horror of rape and how the psyche is affected in a very emotional way. However if you do enjoy the once in a while thriller, and like to see a story that pushes you to think, then Big Driver is for you.
Big Driver premieres on the lifetime network October 18th, 2014 8/7c