Thunder Road ★★★★

Jim Cummings's nervy, awkward energy gives off whiffs of a young Casey Affleck, but despite the obvious auterism here—he wrote, directed and stars in it—it's not just a showcase for his acting.

This began as a one-take short film, which I knew of beforehand, but hadn't seen until after. It was pretty obvious the opening scene was the short in full, but what impressed me is how well the rest of the story built around this jittery monologue extends the believability of the doofy fragility of this character, while also improving upon the short's unmistakable tone.

Rather than succumb to a self-aggrandizing showcase, the full-length movie manages to focus on the tiny moments of Cummings's and others' characters, allowing them a naturalism while oscillating so seamlessly from tragedy to comedy that the often heightened emotions feel honest and earned.