Review: THUNDER ROAD

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I had to write my dad’s eulogy and obituary one year ago. I had less than 24 to write both. His life’s legacy was in my hands and I had 24 hours to make it great. We picked a preacher to deliver the eulogy, and he strayed off topic at times, making things awkward. Funerals will never be perfect, you just want to give the dearly departed the best service possible.

I digress.

Has a movie ever fallen in your lap at the right time and you watch and feel like it was made just for you? For me, that movie is Jim Cummings’ THUNDER ROAD, a witty and razor-sharp humor surrounding the sometimes harsh awkwardness of grief and loss as we get older.

Based on his SXSW and Sundance Film Festival-awarding winning short film of the same name, THUNDER ROAD is about the eulogy Officer Jim Arnaud (Cummings) performs at his mother’s funeral, and the heartbreaking aftermath that follows.

Anyone who’s dealt with grief knows there’s not one way to do it. Some find peace through God, some through pills, drugs, and the bottom of Jim Beam. There are a myriad of ways to cope and deal with grief. Officer Arnaud does it through violent verbal outbursts (immediately followed by apologies) and doing his absolute best to be a good father (which excels at). The latter os his swan song for his late mother. As learned in his eulogy, he took for granted a lot of kindness she did for him, something we can all say about our parents. Jim may have his outbursts, but he means well and his daughter’s well-being is the most important thing to him.

This movie had me from it’s opening moments, when Arnaud is fiddling with a tiny pink portable CD boombox, which he plans on using for his eulogy. He can’t get the damn CD player to work. Then in one long monologue shot in one take (by Lowell A. Meyer, who slowly zooms in on Jim during his eulogy performance), he delivers his eulogy. It’s messy, he loses focus and jumps off topic, says inappropriate things, and dances. He’s grieving, but to people around him, he’s lost his mind.

I say this movie fell into my lap at the right time and I feel like it was made for me because when my dad passed away one year, I felt everything Jim did. Confusion, anger, and profound sadness.

You don’t have to be grieving or loss someone to appreciate THUNDER ROAD — this is a good movie about real life and its blindsiding upsets. It’s also one of the most honest movies about grieving and best films of 2018.