Short film maker Jim Cummings makes his feature length directorial debut with a story, ‘Thunder Road’, based on one of his previous short films of the same name. Writing, directing and starring in the film himself Cummings plays Jim Arnaud a recently bereaved police officer who gives an unorthodox eulogy at his mother’s funeral. The film follows the aftermath of this occasion and explores the relationship between Jim and his daughter Crystal.
‘Thunder Road’ presents a delicately balanced tone, underpinning serious emotional family drama with often abrupt dark comedy. On paper this pairing shouldn’t really work but Cumming’s brilliant writing and enthusiastic performance ensure that in every instance it does. Cumming’s screenplay features numerous scenes of greater length, often full of a lot of dialogue. These moments always excellently manage to maintain your attention with their engaging dialogue and oddball comedy. In addition to this Cummings often cleverly uses really small or short moments in the concluding seconds of these scenes which convey so much extra emotion, giving the scene just past so much more weight, meaning and context without having to use any verbal exposition. As a result the film’s overall narrative becomes this unique blend of tragic emotional drama, exploring grief within a family framed with this bizarre comedy that makes it truly captivating.
Jim Cummings is the beating heart of this film, lending his talents to so many different aspects of the project. As well as those roles already mentioned he’s credited as an editor and he composes the score for the film too. Despite this ‘Thunder Road’ never feels like a vanity project but instead a passion project, this passion is evident nowhere more so than in his wonderful leading performance. His character is far from ordinary, he’s hypnotically unpredictable and Cummings portrays this so well. He manages the shifts between the emotional drama and the darker comedy masterfully, often having to do so within an instant. Furthermore, his thoroughly watchable performance and natural charisma makes Jim such an easy character to root for and invest in. He interacts with his supporting cast effortlessly and creates countless standout scenes within the space of a relatively concise running time.
‘Thunder Road’ is deeply moving and darkly funny, it’s brilliantly unconventional tone won’t be for all audiences but those that do connect with it will relish in its touching drama and bizarre comedy. Jim Cummings is an absolute star, selling this challenging concept in every moment. His sensational leading performance, and demonstration of his film-making talents here can’t help but encourage anticipation for what he has to come next but there’s more than enough already present in ‘Thunder Road’ for audiences to be satisfied, entertained and moved by for the moment, and for years to come.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
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