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.


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  • ★★★★½ review by Waldo on Letterboxd

    Guess I'm feeling musical tonight. William H. Macy directorial debut is a powerful one and one of the best of 2014. Billy Crudup, damn, I hope he gets some recognition for this role. He plays a successful business man touched by a sudden tragedy involving his son who he never knew was a great songwriter and the only way to cope is to play his son's songs at a nearby bar. The movie has one of the most devastating twists I've ever seen and it's presented in such a simple, almost casual way. Impressive in every department, brilliant songs throughout. It's heavy drama but it also benefits from a healthy dose of humor. Really affecting. I loved it. Seek it.

  • ★★★★★ review by Howlin_Wolf on Letterboxd

    Trying to turn a negative into a positive...

    Billy Crudup never lets me down (when he's acting, at least - it's arguable that his past personal conduct hasn't been entirely faultless!)

    The 'twist' blew me away (and I'm not even sure it was supposed to BE a twist, because it was handled so gracefully ... I just unquestioningly assumed something, in the way that I do when a movie has engaged me, and was completely blindsided by the truth... That said, I don't think the movie ever attempted to purposely misdirect me).

    This film was just a lovely, poignant surprise, sweetly tinged with melancholy.

  • ★★★★★ review by Wood on Letterboxd

    Film #12 of the "Scavenger Hunt #3" Challenge

    Task #7 A film about a singer, band or musicians

    Jesus H Macy, my boy Macy went in deep on his directorial debut. Billy Crudup and Anton Yelchin were crazy good in this. Tackling a school shooting is bold, and this holds nothing back. It certainly hit me way harder than I thought it would. This is a dark film that throws all the emotions at you.

    This movie 100% shines in the music department. All the original songs are unreal, it's the first soundtrack I've ever bought immediately as the credits rolled. Strong film.

  • ★★★★ review by Baz on Letterboxd

    A weighty, and tonally different film than what I thought I was getting.

    Billy Crudup certainly gives his all, I personally feel he's a super under rated - and underused! - actor.

    The late Anton Yelchin once again shows why he was a star in the making; a great light went out when the world lost him to tragedy.

    Rudderless is William H. Macy's directorial debut, and he has shown he can handle a good script, a stellar cast, and knows just when to end his film.

    A film that left me emotionally drained, but uttlery rewarded by the journey.

  • ★★★★ review by Kev on Letterboxd

    There is a twist halfway through this film that completely surprised me and placed me at a compromising position in regards to the characters. It was a brave choice, and while the film isn't really ABOUT this new detail, it helps to inform the characters and poses some startling questions.

    Rudderless is the directorial debut of William H. Macy, and could probably best be described as a musical dramedy. While it certainly leans more heavily on the drama elements, there is enough levity to make it a hybrid. It is focused on a grieving father (Billy Crudup) who, losing his son in a terrible ordeal, is not living life to the fullest. He's pretty much broke down; he lost his lucrative job at an ad agency, and is now living out in a boat. Things change when he discovers his late son had a knack for writing songs, and begins to play those songs. Long story short, he ends up teaming up with Anton Yelchin and they start a band.

    Billy Crudup's performance here as a father who's trying his hardest to repress his emotions in an attempt to get on with his life is incredibly moving. He nails the role perfectly, and it is definitely one of his best performances, if not his best, to date. Anton Yelchin is here in an excellent supporting turn, and his rapport with Crudup is excellent. Their dynamic is one of the most pleasing elements of the film. Laurence Fishburne also pops up for a bit, and Macy himself steps out from behind the director's chair for a few minutes as well.

    The key ingredient here is the music though. The soundtrack for this film is truly excellent, with each song being well written and memorable. The emotional connection Crudup feels towards the songs also helps to enhance their impact and meaning. The final song, and performance, in particular - had me almost choking up.

    Look, it's not some grandstanding film that will go down in the history books, but it is an effective little indie that hits hard when it wants too. Throw in some strong performances and some wicked tunes, and you've got yourself a winner. I suggest checking this one out if you've got the time.

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