Rumble Fish ★★½

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Criterion Collection - #869

Adapting S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Rumble Fish back to back seems like a fitting idea in that Francis Ford Coppola could retain that distinctive energy that ensures the two films somewhat carries a thematic link with one another; it also allows the entire process to become easier if Coppola had access to the same pool of cast in making the two films. It is clear, however, at least to me, that Rumble Fish possesses a narrative that is far richer in characters and ideas than what was presented to us in The Outsiders.

Characters in this film feel more tormented and urgent, as evidenced by Rusty James’ (Matt Dillon) desire to emulate his persona like his brother and earn that synonymous respect that he earned in his glory days as an infamous gangster in his local streets, and Mickey Rourke’s The Motorcycle Boy conveys a young mature man who returns from his mysterious disappearance to California, almost as if transformed from the experience and finally sees the world in a different light, which in itself depicts a torn and confused soul, almost as if aimless and uncertain but also philosophical and contemplative.

My issue with Rumble Fish lies in the storytelling, in that Coppola possesses the ambition and experimentation, but lacks the cohesiveness and focus that would make the experience impacting. The film seems to just be connected from scene to scene that doesn’t mesh with one another, leaving me at times disorientated and requiring to play catch up. Rumble Fish feels like a film that can be deeply appreciated once the viewer has gained significant awareness and understanding of the narrative progression and character development, where one can simply view the film in admiration for the storytelling methods that Coppola applied for the film.

Rumble Fish left me torn, as though I am completely aware that at its core, it is a much more powerful and fascinating film than The Outsiders, it is however very distant and overwhelming on initial viewing. My opinion on the film would be further solidified in subsequent viewings, where I have earned enough insight into the film and the filmmaking.

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