Thunder Road

Officer Jim Arnaud is having a personal crisis and a public meltdown. Recently separated and having just lost his mother, he’s perhaps got some excuses for his erratic behaviour and yet he’s so consistently obnoxious and unreliable that it’s hard to imagine this behaviour is entirely new. In fact, it’s hard to believe that he was ever a good cop or a good husband. He runs his mouth constantly and doesn’t know when to walk away. It seems he must have always been a lousy police officer and a lousy husband, but only recently have his wife and boss agreed.

Still, it’s hard to watch him flounder. And Jim Cummings, who wrote and directed this starring role himself, really, really allows us to wallow in his eccentricities. When he breaks out into an interpretive, music-less dance at his mother’s funeral, the scene goes on for an agonizingly long time – and the dance portion is only the final chapter to a nonsensical and often ranting eulogy. Some of you have a high tolerance for watching people embarrass themselves on screen, but I have an unusually low tolerance for that. And I know I can’t be the only one to feel Arnaud’s energy is just too much.

The guy just has a continual, disjointed stream of consciousness, his entire life is one run-on sentence that never ends. Not only does he never shut up, he never finishes a though, one sentence just trailing off into another random thought, leaving a frustrating trail of loose ends. I found him so irritating that I could never muster any sympathy or empathy for him. Cummings is absolutely committed to this character but personally I just kept trying to manifest a cement truck to come and cave his skull in.

How a man with zero impulse control was ever granted a gun is beyond me, but perhaps this film wasn’t meant to be logical or even likable, maybe it just serves as a performance showcase for Cummings, and as a director he certainly indulges in every actor predilection. I had to watch this movie over 4 nights. It’s only 90 minutes long but I just couldn’t sit with his energy for very long. It’s not so much aggressive as just needy and relentless. He’s the kind of toxic personality all the self-help books warn you to cut from your life, and if you shouldn’t tolerate this from friends or family, I’m not sure why I should take it from a fictional character. I stuck with this film because it has received awards and acclaim but its excruciating long takes and raw-nerve tragi-comedy just weren’t for me.

6 thoughts on “Thunder Road

  1. Liz A.

    “Some of you have a high tolerance for watching people embarrass themselves on screen, but I have an unusually low tolerance for that.”
    Not me. I actively avoid movies where someone is going to embarrass themselves onscreen. I won’t go. And I fast forward through those scenes at home. Can’t to it. It’s very painful to me to watch.

    So, this is a skip. If I were to try it, I imagine I’d get through it in about 20 minutes due to fast forwarding the majority of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul. Writer and Filmmaker

      I think it’s a micro-budget film produced and directed by the actor himself. Maybe he got so fed up not getting acting roles he just went out and made it himself. Obviously, it sounds like he has just let rip at the screen with the film serving as both “art” and therapy.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Orca Flotta

    The German language has coined the nice and useful term “fremdschämen” for us ppl of low tolerance for guys who humiliate themselves in public. It means being ashamed for someone else’s behaviour.

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