Rudderless: an excellent blind choice

09 Miles Heizer as Josh

Miles Heizer as Josh in the opening scenes of Rudderless

Saw this yesterday pre-Cricket – we won by the way, at last! Back a few days I wrote:

Having returned the three I wrote about yesterday, I now have a rather different selection. The first is a movie I had never heard of, though it was made as recently as 2014 and featured in Sundance 2014. Rotten Tomatoes gives a mixed verdict. I shall wait and see.


The movie is Rudderless.

Billy Crudup plays Sam, a former high-profile advertising executive whose life is torn apart by the sudden death of his son. Living off the grid on a docked sailboat, he wastes away his days while drowning his pain in alcohol. When Sam discovers a box filled with his son’s demo tapes and lyrics, his own child’s musical talent is a revelation for him, a grieving father who felt he’d been absent from his son’s life. Communing with his deceased son’s dashed dreams, Sam learns each song and eventually musters the will to perform one at a local bar. When Quentin (Anton Yelchin), a young musician in the audience, is captivated by the song, the unlikely duo forms a rock band that becomes surprisingly popular and revitalizes both of their lives.

Fred Topel’s Sundance 2014 Review: Rudderless enthuses:

As director, William H. Macy must have learned from Paul Thomas Anderson because he creates dynamic scenes and camera moves, from the media swarm in the immediate aftermath of Josh’s death, to a montage of performances in which one fluid shot cuts into the next. Wow.

“Wow” is a what I was thinking throughout Rudderless. Wow that the screenplay by Macy, Jeff Robison and Casey Twenter dealt with tragedy in such a classy way, expanded on grief to make it constructive and balanced the fun and heart with sensitivity. Wow that a simple story about music and humanity looked so elegant. Wow that the songs made me happy even though I knew they came from a sad place. Wow that both the opening and closing night selections of Sundance were such powerful films. Just wow.

Just wow!! There is a jolt in this movie that I didn’t see coming, but I can’t say a word about that, can I? Here’s another review:

Skillfully directed by William H. Macy, “Rudderless” is one of those small independent films that it’s a privilege to discover. The cast, led by Crudup, does a fine job of conveying the ups and downs of life and how people deal with them. Yelchin is equally good, giving a layered and nuanced performance that is miles away from the earnest Ensign Chekov he plays in the “Star Trek” films.

Supporting work by Laurence Fishburne, Selena Gomez and director Macy keep the film moving and the original songs are both well written and memorable. The script, which Macy worked on with writers Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison, hits all the right notes and packs an emotional wallop you never see coming. Director Macy keeps the story moving and never allows the emotions to become forced, hitting a home run with his feature film directorial debut.

Glad I made this blind pick! 4/5 stars from me!


One thought on “Rudderless: an excellent blind choice

  1. I have seen the movie and was moved, It is a good story very well told through some excellent direction, acting and editing. I did not particularly enjoy the music though. Perhaps it would have been different on the big screen.

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