Stars: Janet McTeer, Kimberly J. Brown

Mary Jo Walker is a kind of white-trashy Southern mom who packs up 12-year old daughter Ava and hits the road to get away from loser husband number four or is it loser boyfriend number 12. A free-wheeling spirit, Mary Jo loves sex, marriage and obviously being with losers until the going gets so bad that she’s forced to leave. But in Mary Jo’s case it isn’t just leaving the guy’s house, it’s leaving the state for greener pastures anywhere but there.

It’s a routine that Ava is sorely tired of. But at Ava’s behest, this time they’re off to Starlight Beach, near San Diego, California. At least there’s a refreshing ocean there!

Maybe it will be different this time; maybe they can build a life for themselves away from the complexities of male egos. For a short while things look promising. Mary Jo gets a job at an alarm company and Ava enrolls in school and happily meets new friends and gains a new interest in acting. It’s the life she’s always dreamed of, a sense of security and stability.

But the roving eye of Mary Jo lands on Jack, a trucker she met on the road and meets up with in a Starlight bar. Soon, Mary Jo has them moving into Jack’s house and Ava suspects she has little time left before the routine plays itself out again.

Jack’s not a bad sort but his conservative ways clash with Mary Jo’s temperament and Ava hates the arrangement from the word go. Nerves and lives are jangled to the extreme and what we have here is a journey of self-discovery where self-esteem is of the utmost important. That, and a mother-daughter’s love.

British actress Janet McTeer does a marvelous job with her pitch perfect Southern accent and wily ways. I’d say she has the character down pat as does Kimberly J. Brown as daughter Ava. It’s a fun and touching relationship to watch. Look for director Gavin O’Connor as Jack. He’s a strangely sympathetic character because he just can’t grasp who these two women really are.

Lotta says
“Tumbleweeds” is a road trip worth taking.