Thunder Road (CIFF 2018)

Based on a short film of the same name, Thunder Road is a movie that wonderfully balances both tragedy and comedy as we focus on a protagonist who just keeps goofing up. It’s been written and directed by Jim Cummings, and he also plays the protagonist, a Texas police officer who, well, let’s just say he’s got some issues. He’s not a terrible person, he’s just struggling quite a bit. He’s a great example of a flawed individual. A flawed, white, middle-class male. Yes, that matters. The anxiety that comes with that is often front-and-center.

There are laughs and heartbreaking moments. Some of the laughs only come because it’s either laugh or sit there silent and uncomfortable. Our protagonist’s life is falling apart, some of which is his own doing, and that doesn’t exactly scream “fun.” And, in truth, if the movie didn’t have its moments of laughter or if it tried to run for any longer than it does, it might wind up becoming more insufferable than anything else. But it balances its tone and it quits while it’s ahead, and both of those things are to its credit.

The main reason it all works is Cummings. His direction is precise, his script is great, and his performance is incredible. There isn’t a bad performance here, but it’s Cummings, who has to capture both (an attempt at) outside control as well as the inner turmoil—in addition to making his character sympathetic and sometimes funny in light of some troublesome decisions—and he pulls it off. It’s a great performance, it’s a solid movie, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Conclusion: Thunder Road is a great movie with a tremendous lead performance.

Recommendation: When it gets released, check out Thunder Road.

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