Reviewed byBrent HankinsVote: 8/10
Sam (Billy Crudup) is a fast-talking, fast-living advertising exec, whose busy schedule and constant wheeling-and-dealing resulted in the dissolution of his marriage. He still has a good relationship with his college-age son, Josh, but when a campus shooting incident claims the boy's life, Sam copes with the tragedy by drinking away his job, his car, and his condo. Fast forward a couple of years, and Sam is living on a houseboat docked a few hours away from his hometown, painting houses and drinking away his days on a seemingly infinite bender. The cycle is interrupted by the sudden appearance of his ex-wife (Felicity Huffman), who unloads Josh's old guitar and a box of demo recordings - music was always "Josh and Sam's thing," and she needs the reminders out of the house before she's able to move on. Listening to Josh's songs and thumbing through journals full of lyrics, Sam finds himself with an understanding of his late son that he never had when the boy was alive. He begins learning to play each of the tunes, and feels compelled to pop in for an open mic night at the local watering hole and try one of Josh's songs in front of an audience. This catches the attention of Quentin (Anton Yelchin), a fidgety, socially awkward musician who connects with the haunted quality of the songwriting and convinces Sam to form a band. Sam reluctantly agrees, never admitting that he didn't actually write any of the material, and what begins as a duo quickly transforms into a four-piece that includes a pair of Yelchin's fellow collaborators (played by real-life indie musicians Ben Kweller and Ryan Dean). Christened "Rudderless," the band begins to garner a strong local following he finds himself swept up in the joy of playing music, with no regard for the consequences that may come when his secret is inevitably found out. Crudup gives his best performance since Almost Famous, even channeling Russell Hammond in a few of the music sequences, but it's his chemistry with Yelchin that drives the film. The growing bond between Sam and Quentin is a thinly-disguised parallel for Sam's lost relationship with Josh, but truth be told, Quentin needs Sam's guidance and friendship even more than Sam needs him. As Laurence Fishburne's ultra-hip music store owner says at one point, "It's great, what you're doing for that boy." Marking the directorial debut of William H. Macy, who also appears in a minor role as a bar owner, Rudderless spends its first two acts as a rousing, feel-good affair about discovering (or in Sam's case, rediscovering) passion and purpose. The original songs from Simon Steadman, Charlton Pettus, and Ben Limpic are incredibly catchy, and Macy does a superb job of filming the live performances, imparting several clever techniques that showcase the band's increasing popularity. But he also handles the weightier, more emotional moments just as deftly, including a startling revelation at the beginning of the third act that forces the audience to completely re-evaluate their feelings about Sam's decisions. The jarring shift in tone may lose some audience members who feel that Macy is stretching the script's credibility, but most will likely understand the intent behind such a choice. But even with the abrupt left turn, Rudderless remains an uplifting and emotional first outing from Macy, and one of my favorite films of the year.
Reviewed byjacqs-852-631517Vote: 8/10
Saw Rudderless at a private screening in Chicago hosted by William H. Macy. What a powerful, moving and truly entertaining indie film! The performances by Billy Crudup and Felicity Huffman are fantastic. Billy Crudup is award-winning as a broken father who has lost his son tragically and then tries to relate to his son, to pick up the pieces... through music. Selena Gomez, while only in a handful of scenes, displays a dark, intense maturity that we haven't seen from her performances to-date. But the real star of this film is the original music. Fantastic pop rock, catchy tunes with telling lyrics that really make this movie special. The soundtrack is going to be as popular as the movie. Coming to theaters in the U.S. on Oct 17, 2014! Go see it.
Reviewed bybbickley13-921-58664Vote: 8/10
I do love movies about music, even if I'm not a huge fan of the music, but the band Rudderless got an interesting start. Sam Manning is a father who lost his son in a tragic campus shooting. As his life unravels, he discovers his late son's talent for song writing. As a way to connect with his son, Sam begins performing his songs. This is were he meets Quentin, a kid the same age as his boy who falls passionately in love with the songs he hears Sam plays, and convinces Sam that he can add something to the music. Thus the band Rudderless was formed. This is the reason why I wanted to see the movie, but what's great about the film is that the story is deeper than that, especially when we start to learn ore about Sam's son Josh. Billy Crudup as Sam was great. It was emotional watching him deal with something that he could not deal with. The scenes where he hit the bottle and then go into self destruction mode were just too real. Anton Yelchin as Quentin was terrific. The movie is split in-between Drama and music and while Crudup brought the Drama, it was Yelchin who brought most of the music. The great Laurence Fishburne was also part of the cast, as well as Selena Gomez who did great in her small but meaningful part in the film. Plus the Director himself William H. Macy has a small role in his directorial debut. A passionate musical drama for the music lover in all of us.
A grieving father in a downward spiral stumbles across a box of his recently deceased son's demo tapes and lyrics. Shocked by the discovery of this unknown talent, he forms a band in the hope of finding some catharsis.