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NY1 Movie Review: 'Rudderless'

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William H. Macy makes his directorial debut in a new film called "Rudderless" that stars Billy Crudup as a man trying to come to terms with the death of his only child through his son's music. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following review.

William H. Macy makes his directorial debut with a new film that he also co-wrote that stars Billy Crudup. It's called "Rudderless."

Crudup plays Sam, a hotshot ad executive whose entire world falls apart one day when his teenage son Josh dies in a school massacre.

Two years later, Sam has retreated into isolation. He lives alone on a sailboat, paints houses to earn some cash and drinks heavily. One day, his ex-wife, played by Felicity Huffman, gives him a box of music demos that his son made.

Slowly, as he discovers Josh's music, Sam finds a way to connect with his late son. He learns how to play the tunes on the guitar and even shows up at an open mic night to perform one of them.

Sitting in the audience is Quentin, a young man who is blown way by the music. Quentin continually hounds Sam, begging him to form a band. After much prodding, he reluctantly agrees. The group is called Rudderless, and the name is a metaphor for Sam's life.

Through his son's music and his mentoring of a young man, Sam is brought back to life. The band becomes a small-town hit, but Sam, claiming credit for himself, never told anyone who really wrote the songs. However, Josh's former girlfriend, played by Selena Gomez, knows the real story.

William H. Macy does a solid job directing this offbeat material, and the music that we hear throughout the film is really good. The terrific Billy Crudup, who I feel is underutilized in films, turns in a emotional, heartfelt performance, and he anchors the movie. Anton Yelchin, as Quentin, is also first-rate, and Laurence Fishburne is fine in a supporting role.

A late plot twist, which I won't reveal, changes things dramatically, maybe even too much. It alters our perception of everything that came before, and made me question the earlier tone of the film. But overall, it's still a good effort from all involved, and it's certainly worth a look.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: Three apples

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