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"Rudderless": Grief Gets Cured by Jamming Out 

Tuesday, Oct 14 2014
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Character actor William H. Macy's directorial debut feels like a low-key passion project, appropriate enough for a first film. Two years after the death of his son, advertising executive Sam (Billy Crudup) has dropped out of the rat race and lives in a boozy haze on a docked sailboat. When he belatedly discovers that Josh had been a songwriter, Sam begins performing Josh's songs at an open mic, attracting the unwanted attention of young Quentin (Anton Yelchin), who totally wants to start a band with Sam and bring that music to the people. A cross between a hero's journey (Sam initially refuses the call to band-adventure) and whatever the genre is called where people learn to cope with loss, certain elements of Rudderless don't quite fit; Selena Gomez is wasted in a glorified cameo as the son's angry ex-girlfriend, and a strange snobs-vs.-slobs rivalry between Sam and his ultra-nerdy neighbor Alaird (Peter Spruyt, with bowtie and nasally voice) veers into Caddyshack territory for no appreciable reason. Everyone's favorite shit-based screenwriting tropes, "You look like shit" and "Too old for this shit," are also present and accounted for. But otherwise, Rudderless is well-acted with decent music (if not quite up there with God Help the Girl), and gives hope that Macy has greater films in store.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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