A police officer faces a personal meltdown following a divorce and the death of his mother.
One of the biggest successes of last year’s Sundance Film Festival was ‘Thunder Road’, a tour de force of a movie from Jim Cummings, who writes, directs and stars in this tale of a man in the midst of a breakdown. It begins at a funeral, specifically the funeral of police officer Jim Arnaud’s (Cummings) mother, where Arnaud clumsily eulogises her whilst attempting to dance to the Bruce Springsteen song ‘Thunder Road’, in an unusual tribute to her. This episode is filmed by someone in the audience and Jim’s daughter witnesses it all and is visibly embarrassed. From here, we follow Jim as he struggles to cope with events surrounding him whilst trying to maintain his job and his relationship with his daughter.
‘Thunder Road’ is clearly a very personal story for Cummings and he wears his heart on his sleeve as the loveable but clearly damaged Jim Arnaud. It’s a character study of a man struggling to cope with a whirlwind of events that he can’t control, with the breakdown of his relationship and his mother’s death occurring within a short timeframe. Despite the subject matter it is also an incredibly funny film, largely through Cummings performance which deftly switches between hilarious and heartbreaking constantly. He’s a man who ultimately has his heart in the right place, but he lacks the self control to prevent the destructive behaviour that makes his current situation worse, and this is a very good representation of how an otherwise good person can find themselves spiralling without a support network around them. In this respect, I really liked Nican Robinson’s character Nate, who is as good a friend as anyone could ever hope for.
‘Thunder Road’ isn’t perfect and not all of the vignettes work as well as intended, but the heart that Cummings puts into this carries the material through and importantly, it saves its finest moments for the film’s conclusion which really elevated my overall opinion. ‘Thunder Road’ is an impressive debut in many respects for Jim Cummings and I’ll be intrigued to see what he decides to do next.
Directed By: Jim Cummings
Starring: Jim Cummings, Kendal Farr, Nican Robinson, Macon Blair, Jocelyn DeBoer, Chelsea Edmundson and Bill Wise