If you’re going to do a short film based around the title of one of Bruce Springsteen’s best and most popular songs, you’d better do a good job. Luckily for Jim Cummings, he’s done The Boss justice (and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at Sundance). There is a fascinating balance of being impressed and being amused with Thunder Road.
From a cinematic point of view, there is a lot of skill on show. The film is shot by Kirsha’s Drew Daniels in a single 13-minute take, and there is a lot of story in that time. Officer Arnaud (Cummings) delivers a eulogy at his mother’s funeral, by singing and dancing to Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’. As the story progresses and the absurdity rises, Daniels’ lens encroaches on the action. As Cummings’ character unravels, Daniels’ cinematography accentuates this rapid decline.
Cummings – who wrote and directed the short – was amazed at the praise the film received for being achieved with one take. Speaking to IndieWire, he said “We don’t leave plays and say, ‘Wow, they had to memorize all of that, and they had to do it in one go!’” The man has a point; yet this level of composure and skill is worthy of recognition nonetheless.
Beyond this, the short is also truly entertaining. Cummings’ commitment to delivering raw grief interspersed with David Brent-esque antics is admirable, albeit eliciting more scoff-inducing amusement than uproarious laughter. The simplicity and strength of the short allows the lead to play both sides of the fence to great effect, transforming this short into something great. Surely the greatest seal of approval is Springsteen himself waiving the additional licensing rights, allowing the film to see the light of day. If The Boss approves, we approve.
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CAST: Jim Cummings
DIRECTOR: Jim Cummings
WRITER: Jim Cummings
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Drew Daniels
SYNOPSIS: Officer Arnaud (Cummings) loved his mum, and the greatest appreciation of her life comes through interpreting Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’.