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Rudderless

(William H. Macy)


"He was my son..."


I remember seeing a trailer for Rudderless and the music that was showcased really grabbed my attention. It didn't have much of a theatrical run and it never made its way over here, so when I saw that it was on Netflix, I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did.

Sam (Billy Crudup) is still on a downward depressed alcoholic spiral after losing his son. His ex-wife (Felicity Huffman) finally has the courage to clean out their sons room and comes across from demo tapes and lyrics that neither of them knew about. Sam uses his sons music to help with the grieving process and unwittingly forms a band with a young kid Quentin (Anton Yelchin) whom reminds him of his son.

The directorial debut of William H. Macy, Rudderless is a depressingly optimistic film with a lot of heart. Some people will find the film a bit melodramatic or manipulative, I found it engaging and honest. Macy doesn't make light of a serious situation, we simply see a different side of a story. The fact that the son is dead isn't the main issue with the film, it's how he dies and how we are suppose to feel about his father using his music to gain popularity and success. Some people think what he is doing is wrong, I just looked at is as a way for a father to finally find a way to grieve about his dead son.

As I mentioned before, the music is what grabbed my attention in the trailer. This is still true with the film itself. I was nodding my head, tapping my toes and when the film was finished, purchased a copy of the soundtrack. I really got into the musical aspect of the film and the fact that it is really Crudup and Yelchin playing and singing helps the process. The music in this film conveys just as much, if not more emotion. I listened to the lyrics on display here and fade away at times. I found it to be comforting and sad all at the same time.

Both Crudup and Yelchin deliver strong performances. Crudup has the more difficult task of being an alcoholic depressed *******, yet still try and find the sympathy he needs from the audience. It works. Yelchin is simply the talented kid that needs guidance. He finds it in Crudup and they both acknowledge that they need the other for their own reasons. Huffman has a small role as the ex-wife. With only three or four scenes, she isn't given much to work with and the story doesn't really seem to care that much about her. She has her own way to process the grief, but the film is more concerned with Crudup. Laurence Fishburn has a small role as a music shop owner who befriends Sam. He's more of a comic relief character with some sage wisdom. Cliched, but it doesn't hurt it.

Macy, who has a small role as the owner of a bar where the band plays, does a serviceable job as director. The film doesn't have any flashy aspects to it, it's more concerned with getting the story right. Macy decides to hide a certain aspect of the story until the third act. I'm not sure if it was suppose to be some surprise or not. I found myself thinking about the reveal once or twice before it actually was shown on screen, but I forgot about it really fast. I didn't feel angry, or manipulated by anything, as some people seem to be. I found it to be a different take on a similar story. We see things from the other side.

Not a lot of people know about the film, or will even bother to watch it. I'm here to say that it is good. I'll be the voice for Rudderless and champion it to others. Watch the film, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the end. Even if you don't really like it, it has great music.