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RUDDERLESS (William H. Macy). 104 minutes. Opens Friday (October 17). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Rudderless is a small movie, and that’s just fine. It’s the directorial debut of actor William H. Macy – who co-wrote the script, cast his wife, Felicity Huffman, in a key role and appears in a cameo as a bar owner – and it’s about a broken man trying to put himself back together.
His name is Sam, and he’s played by the perpetually underrated Billy Crudup. The death of his college-age son has left him a dissolute mess, living on a boat and working as a house painter. But when he discovers a cache of songs his son left behind, Sam performs one of them at a bar’s open-mic night and winds up forming a band with a kid (Anton Yelchin) who doesn’t realize Sam’s music isn’t really his.
You probably know where the story’s going. But there’s at least one thing you likely won’t see coming – I certainly didn’t – and Macy smartly lets Crudup carry the complexities of Sam’s grief without resorting to overt manipulation.
The movie’s ambitions are so modest, I’m surprised it’s getting a theatrical release at all. As theatres clamour to book the next superhero movie or horror reboot, there seems to be less and less room for subtle character studies like this.
I’m glad somebody’s still making them.