REVIEW: “Honest Depiction of Grief With Hilarious Performances” – Thunder Road (2019)

Jim Cummings’ writes, directs and acts for his debut feature film Thunder Road, expanded from his award winning short of the same name. The story follows police officer Jim Arnaud (Jim Cummings), who we are introduced to bearing all with a very personal, and unusual eulogy at his mother’s funeral. Jim is downtrodden by life, struggling to come to terms with his mother’s death and dealing with her assets, all while juggling work and fathering his young daughter Crystal – whose mother he has been separated from for over a year. Things go from bad to worse when Crystal’s mother attempts to gain full custody of their child, and Jim has to battle to keep contact with his daughter.

Thunder Road has a sad sense of humour. You root for Jim and support his freedom to express grief in his own unique way, yet still feel a pang of embarrassment whenever his infamous dance routine is mentioned. The film does a good job of explaining that grief manifests itself differently within different people, and for Jim it has affected his judgement and rationality. Susceptible to violent outbursts and uncontrollable swearing that is completely out of character, and of which he is immediately apologetic for, Jim is a tightly wound spring. However even with these outbursts, he never loses the pure good-guy at the core of his character. During a fiery argument with his colleagues at the station, his tone shifts suddenly when he thanks one of them for bringing him breakfast when he was sleeping in his car, an example of the films impeccable comedic timing that reminds us how even the most good-natured people can be pushed to the edge.

This comedic timing is paired with brilliant physical comedy from Jim Cummings, where every movement and facial expression is dedicated to bringing this character to life. The way he can switch from total breakdown to the coolest composure in an instant during his mother’s eulogy is so darkly funny; Cummings nails every monologue.

The actress cast as Jim’s daughter Crystal (Kendal Farr) is charismatic and brimming with confidence. The little bouts of attitude Crystal gives her Dad are spot on, and the two share a great chemistry that gives their performance heart. Constantly vying for his daughters affections, when the dedicated Jim finally impresses his daughter with a clapping game, the look of respect on Kendal’s face is priceless. Their relationship is relatable and authentic, and holds real emotional weight.

Capturing the spirit of the song it’s named after, Thunder Road is about wanting more for yourself and believing that you deserve better. An honest depiction of grief with a hilarious performance from Jim Cummings, Thunder Road will make you laugh, cry, and cringe.