Rudderless (2014)

I was about to post this as I figured it was very timely with regards to the recent Orlando shooting, when the news of Anton Yelchin's sudden death shocked the entire film industry. Hollywood mourned the loss of the promising young star Sunday afternoon.

Yelchin began his acting career appearing in shows such as ER, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. In 2006, he received critical acclaim for his performance in crime drama Alpha Dog and starred as the title character in 2007's Charlie Bartlett. He made his Star Trek debut in the franchise's 2009 film, where he played Pavel Chekhov. He reprised the role in 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness and again in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.

However, my favorite movie of his is a rich and emotional story that gives viewers a much-needed perspective on the other side of a mass shooting. Rudderless is a tragic quasi-musical that never quite finds its way. 

A sensitive performance from Billy Crudup buoys this sincere but ill-conceived drama, the directorial debut of character actor William H. Macy. Crudup plays a divorced father and businessman who falls to pieces after his only son dies in a campus shooting rampage; two years later, living on a boat and working as a housepainter, he discovers a box of song demos the boy recorded, and after he performs one of the tunes at an open mike, an enthusiastic young musician (Anton Yelchin) assembles a rock band around him. 

The important distinction is what happens in between, and the way co-writer/first-time feature director William H. Macy withholds relevant information is hard to justify. The story takes an even sharper left turn in the last half hour, raising emotional issues it can't adequately address. He plays coy with a major plot point, selling out credibility for the sake of a twist when coming clean from the start would have been bolder.

Hold on, and suddenly you’ll find your way.
Hold on, til yesterday is far away.
When you’ve got enough of everything,
All that’s left is letting go.
— Hold On by Ben Kweller and Selena Gomez

The real art in the movie is found in its music. It is one of those films whose soundtrack you instantly think of as one of the greats. Along with ALMOST FAMOUS, GARDEN STATE and  FRANK, you will find yourself searching the lyrics. I remember quoting one of its songs in my uncle's funeral late 2014. 

In Memory of Anton Yelchin