Movie Poster - Rudderless

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Trigger Warning(s): School Shooting

Review (with Spoilers)

With school shootings becoming almost as normal as the United States announcing combat operations, films like this one are sort of weird. For while there is We Need to Talk About Kevin, among many films which approach school shootings, with Rudderless a different approach is used. As for whether this film worked or not in the long run? Well, look below.

Characters & Story

An amateur musician named Josh (Miles Heizer) finds himself in the center of a school shooting, leaving six dead. Said tragedy has a dramatic effect on multiple lives, like his sort of girlfriend Kate (Selena Gomez), his mom Emily (Felicity Huffman), and especially his dad Sam (Billy Crudup), who is the primary focus of the movie. For with Josh’s death comes a lot of grief, something which causes Sam to drastically change his life. But then, Emily gives Sam all of Josh’s music.

Thus leading to the main story in which Sam performs Josh’s music, and attracts the attention of a young man named Quentin (Anton Yelchin), who finds himself in love with Josh’s music, and we watch as their band “Rudderless” attracts the attention of many, including Kate.


First and foremost, I loved the music used throughout the film. Not only did it help further develop Josh, who we see for maybe the first ten minutes, but also the songs were good. I’m talking download the soundtrack and putting at least half the songs on a daily playlist good. And with loving Josh’s music comes complicated feelings. There are two ways of seeing Josh, and that is how his father looks at him, as the person who is his son, and then how everyone else sees him.

Of which, it isn’t just the story but performances that help push this. For watching Crudup, as Sam, utterly convert his life from a hot shot marketing exec to a man who does construction and lives on a boat, you can see the effect Josh’s death had on him. For while Emily’s life remained quite upper-middle-class suburban, and she dealt with her demons her own way, you can see Sam going in a completely different direction. Thus making it when Quentin comes into his life, Yelchin is allowed to become a strong supporting player who sort of wiggles his way into the space Josh once took up.


My main issue with this film is that while I like Sam and how Crudup played him, I felt like we didn’t get enough on Kate or Emily. Much less, we had unanswered questions about Josh and why Quentin seemed to be so down all the time. For while I get he was living out of a car with his mom for a while, it just felt like there was more to his story left unsaid. Something that bothers me even as I write this. For truly, be it the subject matter or performances, this film stays with you. Making it unfortunate most of the characters leave you wanting to know more [1].

Overall: Worth Seeing

Things To Note

  1. I honestly thought that maybe one of Quentin’s friends, or maybe someone he was in love with, died alongside Josh. Hell, maybe even his father perhaps.
  • It seems, at least according to what I read on the IMDB boards, the reason we don’t get to learn much about most of the characters is due to editing decisions. In an Under the Radar interview Macy did with Zach Hollwedel, you can read up on some of the things, which you’ll notice when you see the film, which ended up being omitted.
  • A part of me wants to say that Yelchin’s character Quentin seems so much like the character Ian he played in Only Lovers Left Alive.

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Rudderless - Overview


I’ll admit this is on the low end of what I think is Worth Seeing, but something about the subject matter and music makes this just too intriguing to throw in with the rest of the TV Viewing pile. For with the film, around the climax, giving you very complicated feelings, but not fully exploring any character but Sam, it makes it hard for me to firmly place this as “Worth Seeing” without pause. However, even with that said, I do feel this is definitely worth seeing, and I hope a director’s cut is released eventually.

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