"Rudderless" Steers A True But Narrow Course Review

Even if you've never heard of Rudderless, you're likely familiar with its narrative arc; man undergoes tragedy, drops out of life, finds redemption in creative pursuit. It's a central tenet of independent films that most wounds can be healed simply by quitting your corporate job and picking up an acoustic guitar, and in many cases, that may be the case. Rudderless, though (William H. Macy's directorial debut), takes on a level of grief that would appear insurmountable, and applies to it a level of gravity more appropriate to a nasty breakup than a family-leveling tragedy.

Advertising maven Sam (the always appealing and truly under-rated Billy Crudup) knows how to land a big client, but he's less certain how to process the fact that his son is a killer; the biggest sale of his life is interrupted by news breaking of a campus shooting, with his offspring as the gunman. In short order, he hits the bottle, buys a houseboat, and takes a painting job, with the unstated hope that he will be able to leave his life behind. This proves harder than it sounds, when he starts performing his son's songs at open mics, attracting the attention of Quentin (Anton Yelchin), another young musician. Had Rudderless used this as a vessel to explore Sam's relationship with his son, it might have been too powerful to take (it's hard not to think of We Need To Talk About Kevin at times). Instead, the film spends its time hitting some fairly rote beats of recovery, without ever seeming to absorb the fullness of Sam's grief (unless it really is this easy), and never becomes truly convincing as a result.


The disc contains "Hear This Song", a making of featurette, a music video for "Hold on" performed by Ben Kweller and Selena Gomez, and a collection of deleted scenes.

"Rudderless" is on sale January 20, 2015 and is rated R. Drama. Directed by William H Macy. Written by Casey Twenter & Jeff Robison & William H. Macy. Starring Anton Yelchin, Billy Crudup, Felicity Huffman, Laurence Fishburne, Selena Gomez.

Anders Nelson • Associate Editor


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