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Shock, MA, 105 Mins
Character star William H. Macy’s debut as director (and co-writer, executive producer and co-star) is a tough and uncomfortably moving affair that hasn’t made many friends but still proves to be one of the best direct-to-DVD titles so far this year.
Sam (the picky Billy Crudup), a well-off exec type, has just promised to spend more time with his semi-estranged son Josh (Miles Heizer) when Josh is killed in a high school massacre we thankfully don’t see. A year later and the unemployed Sam is living incognito on a boat, catching fish, annoying the locals and trying to avoid his ex-wife Emily (nicely played by Macy’s own missus Felicity Huffman).
When Sam is forced to look through a box of Josh’s possessions, he finds tapes of songs recorded in demo form just before Josh’s death as well as pages of lyrics, and then attends an open-mic night (where the pub proprietor is played by Macy himself) to play the tunes as a sort of tribute (or maybe as a form of flagellation?). Some young musos led by Quentin (Anton Yelchin) are impressed and soon they’ve started a band together, although the young ‘uns don’t know Sam’s secret and, just perhaps, we don’t properly either.
Built upon some lovely playing from Macy’s mates (Laurence Fishburne relaxes as Del, a music store owner befriended by Sam, and a teen-ish star turns up in the small role of Josh’s distraught girlfriend), Rudderless (a catchy title?) demonstrates that Macy could easily prove himself as an ‘Actor’s Director’. And that’s not surprising given that he’s worked with the best in a brilliantly prestigious career over three decades – and everyone loves him.