Thunder Road: A laugh, a tear and brilliant film

Two years ago, actor, director, and writer Jim Cummings (Hydrangea, Still Life) decided to release a 13-minute short film about Jimmy Arnaud, a policeman in America holding a eulogy for his dead mother. Thunder Road, which name was based on the Bruce Springsteen song, became an instant success as it won multiple prestigious awards all over the world. This incredibly unique short film proved to be the foundation of Cummings latest film, Thunder Road. This time it became a full-length feature film and just like the short, it turned to be an exceptionally funny, silly but also dark and serious movie in which Cummings is clearly the star.

It’s been ages since we had seen such a hilariously sad opening scene as the one in Thunder Road. It’s not only an incredibly long and beautiful continuous shot (congratulations to the team for that) but it also sets the tone for the rest of the film. Jimmy Arnaud (Jim Cummings) is overwhelmed by grief and sadness due to the passing of his mother but he still wants to respect her in the most honourable way. However, things don’t go to plan at all and Jim is being publicly humiliated. Trying to forget that, he focusses more on his relationship with his daughter Crystal (Kendal Farr), who’s going to fourth grade. Trying to do the best he can, it doesn’t work out and he lacks the fundamental elements of parenting. Crystal is more attached to Jimmy’s estranged wife (Jocelyn DeBoer) and so a divorce is the foreseen outcome. Jimmy had it all: The great looks, the very high-status job as a policeman and a wonderful family. However, since the death of his mum, his world is collapsing at a fast speed. How long will Jimmy be able to stand up before crumbling down completely?

From the start, it becomes clear that Thunder Road isn’t like any movie you’ve ever seen before. The dancing scene, during which Jim is trying to pay tribute to his mother via his daughter’s pink toy boombox, is worth gold. It’s funny and witty but you also see some of the cracks in Jimmy’s life. The fear of losing everyone and everything and the grief and sadness that has overcome him and that will keeps following him for the rest of the film. It’s also brought to screen relatively simple (or at least it seems like that). Just one camera focussing on the leading character and closely brings him to life. Yes, there are aspects of violence such as fast action, gun fires, and explosions but the main focus in Thunder Road is without a doubt the long, hard and difficult period Jimmy is going through and the emotions that come with it.

Emotions aren’t anything when they aren’t brought in the right way. They can be underdelivered or be over the top and then the whole films losing the attention and the credibility of the audience. Yes, honestly the emotions can be over the top in this film but that’s what makes from Thunder Road such a great movie and it fits perfectly in the story. As Jimmy, Jim Cummings makes you laugh, cry and makes sure that you feel what his character is feeling. You don’t laugh at Jimmy and his hysterical cry moments, you laugh and cry with him because you feel the pain, the agony and despair. Deep down you see a man that never grew up to become a real man, despite his uniform and status.

His daughter is being portrayed by the wonderful Kendal Farr (Sanitatum). She shows a very mature Crystal who’s showing signs from adulthood but who at the same time is also still the playful and innocent child. She’s someone who obviously learned some bad language from her dad. Jocelyn DeBoer (The Arrival, Buzz) is fabulous as Rosalind Arnaud, who’s clearly fed up with the childish, irresponsible and juvenile (ex)-husband.

The film got its worldwide premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March this year. So far there aren’t any details on whether and when the film will get a full UK release so if you want to see this brilliant film, go and check it out during the BFI Film Festival. You will laugh, you will cry, you will have an amazing time and you will have seen a superb film.

Liselotte Vanophem, Film and Celebrity Reporter – Just Celebrity Magazine

Thunder Road (Official Trailer) from Jim Cummings on Vimeo.

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