The film is all at once a genuine, crowd-pleasing barnstormer and an uncomfortably identifiable personal theme park 4D experience.
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What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
One could argue that Thunder Road is more sympathetic than critical—which is to say, that it’s a movie that asks you to feel sorry for a white cop with serious women issues. If that’s an oversimplification, it’s because Cummings, who also wrote and directed the film, has delivered a remarkable tragicomic performance in the lead.
He’s a fascinating cinematic creation and a pronouncement of a major talent in Jim Cummings, the star, writer, and director of the SXSW Grand Jury winner, Thunder Road.
It’s a matter of opinion whether Thunder Road is one of the best films of 2018, a distinction best left for listmakers and marketers. (Cue “It, Me” copping to the former.) But I can say it’s one of my favorites, the sort of experience where you walk out of a theater 90 minutes later and feel like something inside you has shifted two klicks to the left.
While it remains a fascinating character study driven by Cummings’ striking delivery, it also falls back on conventional twists. The resulting drama showcases a remarkably strong vision in the confines of more familiar story beats, but it’s a testament to Cummings’ maniacal performance that he manages to keep us engaged.
Through a combination of caricature and psychological portrait, subtle touches and howls of impotent, uniformed rage, [Cummings’] film offers a memorable depiction of a man ill-equipped to deal with or direct his feelings—probably not all that different from the rest of us.
Driven by Cummings' transfixingly vulnerable performance, the movie not only justifies returning to the source: Shockingly, it does so without even using the device that seemed key to the short's success.
The film is wholly original taking on issues of the day from parental rights to mental illness and later, the opioid crisis. But while there is plenty of depth here, Thunder Road feels a little too much like it has been cobbled together from sketches and ideas for a one-man show.
Thunder Road has received oodles of festival awards, including the Grand Jury Award at SXSW. The film is a singular work. Even though it doesn’t always live up to the promise of its opening sequence, Thunder Road is an exhilarating ride.
At Thunder Road, you’ll giggle at moments, and you’ll also be moved, but mostly you’ll know the precise crazy-sane reality of who this man is.