A police office grapples with his own ineptitude.
The white Texas cop at the center of Jim Cummings’ offbeat feature debut is “a character I’ve never quite seen before,” said A.A. Dowd in AVClub.com. Officer Jim Arnaud is a polite public servant on the verge of either a breakdown or an angry blowup, and Cummings’ remarkable performance makes you both root for the guy and fear him. In a 10-minute “tour de force” opening, Arnaud stands before mourners at his mother’s funeral and launches into a weepy, unfocused tribute that culminates in a botched attempt to perform an interpretive dance while playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” on a boom box. “The scene is awkward beyond belief, and sets the stage for more discomfort to come,” said Marjorie Baumgarten in The Austin Chronicle. Jim is struggling with impending divorce, his ineptness as a parent, and a frighteningly short fuse. And though none of the vignettes that follow match the first, the movie offers an “exhilarating” emotional ride. A big twist near the end might be unearned, said Brian Tallerico in RogerEbert.com. “Then again, that’s what Thunder Road is about—those major moments that come out of nowhere and turn us into emotional messes.” Cummings is a talent. “I can’t wait to see what he does next.”
Ryan Green, Erika Doss, courtesy of Vanishing Angle ■