Jim Arnaud (Jim Cummings) is a police officer who always tries to do the right thing. After his mother dies, shortly after his divorce, he is completely thrown, though. Trying to pay hommage to her by dancing to one of their favorite songs (she was a dance teacher) at the funeral, leads to being ridiculed, though, and marks the start of Jim’s complete unravelment.
Thunder Road is an unusual film and not one that offers itself easily to its viewers. But regardless of what you make of it in the end, Jim Arnaud is a character to be seen and Jim Cummings a filmmaker to watch.
I have to admit that I expected a little more comedy from the film. It definitely has absurdly funny moments, but mostly it is a film about a man who really doesn’t have the tools to handle his life, especially not the emotional ones. He means well, he is trying to do right, but he really doesn’t know how.
That makes him ultimately a helpless victim of his emotions, completely at the mercy of them. He doesn’t know how to control them, nor how to express them and there is nobody in his life who can help him with that. Definitely not the police officers he works with. And nevertheless, Jim tries and Cummings’ performance is jaw-dropping whenever he portrays Jim’s struggle. The abrupt changes, the eruptions – even when they seem funny on the surface, you can always feel Jim’s pain just underneath that layer of apparent ridicule.
The film lives off Jim as a character. There isn’t really a cohesive story – instead we see Jim at various moments. That has its charms but can also grow tired pretty quickly. The ending didn’t quite work for me. But Jim, bolstered by Cummings’ performance, holds it all together. And there is no taking your eyes off him.
Thunder Road is a film that made me approach it from various sides and perspectives, unsure of what to make of it. But ultimately there is one thing that holds true for all my approaches: it is engaing and I had fun both watching and puzzling over it. And that is a lot a film can give you.
Summarizing: really worth seeing.