You get a sense of what awaits you as the opening scene of Thunder Road unfolds. Adapted from a thirteen minute short film of the same name, the main character is presenting the eulogy for his recently departed mother. There is a true tension before he begins as he busies himself with batteries for a portable CD player. The anxiousness is written all over his face. The full horror, and the word isn’t used lightly, unfolds as he is about to give his mother the send off that she deserves. It is painful to watch.
The film is the entire idea of Jim Cummings. He has written, directed and stars in it. It is very much his vision. From the initial idea presented in the short film, the story has been expanded to show what happened next and how a character in so much emotional turmoil comes to the realisation that he no longer has the one person who was his anchor.
The main character of Jim Arnaud is one that has its flaws fully on display throughout. Nothing is held back in the portrayal of a man who wants to do the right thing but just seems to make everything worse. He seems adrift as one thing after another comes down on him, whether it be trouble at work as a policeman, trying to work out some sort of accord with his ex wife and feeling that the whole world is against him. He comes across as a person who has always taken guidance and then acted upon it, never really questioning it as it was easier not to. As a consequence he has no sense of himself. He is defined by his mother and is lost without her. His attempts to turn thing around just lead to further problems.
This isn’t an easy watch. It is charting the disintegration of a man who is really struggling with life, can see no way out and doesn’t have anyone to turn to for help. His partner at work tries to help, but he is another weak man who can only do so much. You get the impression that there is a sense of inevitability about his dilemma. His story started long before we join the action and we are just tuning in for the final act in the car crash that is his life.
What is missing is the support of his family but his siblings are nowhere to be seen. Neither of them showed up for the funeral and it is only later in the film that we actually see his sister. The meeting is a veiled cry for help from him which is either not understood or totally ignored by his self-obsessed sister who is too caught up in her own life to want to get involved. There is a really poignant moment where he leaves her house. It becomes obvious that he was hoping to stay for a while but wasn’t wanting to impose so he hid his overnight bag. When he pulls the bag out of the bushes outside his sister’s home it is a reaffirmation that he has nothing left.
Thunder Road is not an easy watch. It is really worth the trouble though.