Music is life. Music is healing. Music is everything.
What would you do if you lost a child? What would you do if you lost a child in one of the most horrible ways imaginable? What would you do if, after their death, you discovered that the bond you once shared had still been a big part of their life?
I’ve been waiting for this movie for a couple of years now. A gentleman (as opposed to “this guy”) I’ve known since at least 7th grade, maybe longer, co-wrote the screenplay with one of his friends. And William H. Macy. Pretty cool, right? My acquaintance with said “guy” has nothing to do with why I’m giving this a positive review. Despite my anticipation for the release date, I was really REALLY hoping the movie wouldn’t suck because, although I’d give an honest opinion, you can probably imagine how uncomfortable that would be. I can just picture this Facebook comment on his wall, “Hey, man! How’s it going? Your movie totally sucked pond water! Hope all is well. Laters.” Yeah. I’m just not seeing it. So, you can understand how relieved I was that this film wasn’t just good. It went beyond. If this movie doesn’t touch your heart in some way, you might want to check your pulse. Let me warn you though, this film does bring up a difficult topic that is making the news much too often lately. It questions your sympathies and begs the question, “What would I do?”
Following is the summary of Rudderless as told on IMDB:
“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.”
I don’t entirely agree with that summary but it’s just semantics. It does have a basic truth. The father IS grieving. The CDs are given to him. He does play the music in the hope of finding some catharsis.
I’ve always believed in the healing power of music. If you can’t find someone in your life to share what you’re going through, you can always count on finding a song that proves that someone, somewhere has been through the same and completely understands. Or a song will come along that stops you in your tracks. The raw truth and beauty in it speaks to you in ways you never imagined and you have to just pause for a moment and go, “Whoa!” Or, music can be an oh-so-valuable bridge between you and a loved one; a connection that was somehow broken can be made whole again.
Billy Crudup is Sam, a father who is struggling with the loss of his son and the circumstances surrounding that loss. I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of pain a parent would feel. His son’s CD’s and lyric book are dumped on him and ultimately change his life. I liked Billy as Sam. His orneriness was endearing, his pain was easily felt and his breakdown nearly did me in. You can’t believe how glad I was that no one was sitting around me. And very glad that I hadn’t gone to the showing that was viewed by several of my past classmates. I was an absolute mess. I did find it odd that only one person seemed to know/figure out who Sam was. Apparently these characters watch as much news as I do.
Anton Yelchin is Quentin, a musician who hears Sam sing and convinces him that they would sing well together. You may recognize him as Chekov from the new Star Trek franchise. Granted, he no longer looks twelve years old. Anton’s Quentin also messed with my emotions. I cheered for him, I felt for him and I wanted to smack him. If you’re a good actor, that’s pretty much how it should be.
Has anyone ever noticed that it’s difficult to not cry with Felicity Huffman? She’s one of those people that can just break your heart. Imagine her character (Emily) losing her son. My heart hurt. It hurt bad. And it was just the briefest of moments.
I liked Selena Gomez’s character, Kate, the first time I saw her. You’ll want to just hug her and let her cry it out. Later on…not so much. I’m willing to bet that people will eventually either be for her or against her. I just happen to be the latter. I don’t think what Kate did was right. I wish I could say more but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. Some people will disagree with me. Obviously the writers disagreed because the movie would have ended differently had they done things the way I would have been more comfortable with. But, that’s half the fun of movies; being able to see both sides even though one of those sides is only in your mind. And who wants to go to a movie that stays in your comfort zone? If a movie doesn’t transport you out of your own world for a couple of hours then it is not doing its job. But, I digress. Please don’t read this as I didn’t like Selena’s acting. To the contrary. She also made me feel.
I could go on and on about the other actors/characters but it would be alot of what I’ve already mentioned. They were all well-chosen. I don’t think there was anybody I would have replaced. Okay, so maybe one more character description. I do feel that I need to mention Del, played by Laurence Fishburne. As mentioned in my last post, I love a good old crotchety teddy bear. Del is a good good man who believes in seeing both sides of every story. He is the friend everyone should have. And despite his grouchy demeanor it is oh so obvious that he loves his wife. Could you guys find me a Del, please?
And speaking of being taken out of my own world, it wasn’t long at all before I left the theater and was transported to…Oklahoma. Which sounds really odd because I do actually live in Oklahoma. And not far at all from the lake we saw so much of. But this wasn’t my Oklahoma. It was Sam’s and Quentin’s and Kate’s and Emily’s and Del’s. I became a part of their lives. I can ask no more of a film than to do just that.
Now let’s break it down:
Through most of the movie I kept waiting for something to happen to validate the R rating. There were no sex scenes. No nudity. The closest they came to it was the main character peeing in the lake but even then everything was kept covered. We saw a couple people smoking joints. There was quite a bit of drinking but a good portion of the film happened in a bar so you kind of have to expect it. The only violence we actually witnessed was a fist to someone’s eye though we did see the emotional damage one brief moment of violence can cause. And for most of the movie the cussing was kept to a minimum. Yes, the big words were used but not often enough to earn that rating. Then why? Because the last quarter of the film decided to make up for the lack of cussing in the first three-quarters. That is the only reason I can think of.
I do feel that I need to say that, in one instance, the cussing was almost validated. There is a reason I don’t watch the news and the reporter who received her comeuppance is exactly why. They just can’t seem to get that the last thing any person who is grieving wants is for some stranger to stick a microphone in their face and ask them how they feel. How dumb are you? How would you feel? It is none of your business and certainly none of my business. If they want to share their story they’ll hold a press conference. Until then, leave them alone!!! Sorry. I’m finished.
I know some people may avoid Rudderless because of the rating and I really hate that because it is such a good movie. While I try to steer clear of people who believe the F-word should be a well-used adjective, I still want to encourage everyone to go see this. It has a good message. The music is great and hits nearly every emotion on the spectrum. The actors are wonderful. I got to see lots and lots of my beloved Oklahoma. And finally, it’s just a good way to spend a couple of hours. Would I watch this movie again? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, I’m doing so tonight. Join me, won’t you?
P.S. If you live in the OKC area and would like to go see Rudderless, it is showing at the AMC Quail Springs. If you live outside of the OKC area, check out this site to see if it's showing at a theater near you: http://www.rudderlessthemovie.com/#theaters. If you aren’t able to get to the theater, you can also check it out on demand and on digital HD. You can buy it here: http://j.mp/iTunesRudderless. You can also buy or rent it on VUDU or Amazon.
P.P.S. The soundtrack is also available on iTunes. Just a warning to parents. There is “language” in some of the songs too. I do believe that this is one of the albums that allows you to buy each song individually so, if you’re screening what your child/teenager listens to, and you like the music, pick what you feel is okay for them. I don’t know how many times I’ve already listened to “Home” and “Hold On” though there’s not a song on the album I don’t like.
P.P.P.S. I don't have any pics yet for this post but will update it as soon as I do.