Rumble Fish ★★★★½

‘Motorcycle Boy Reigns!’ 

Coppola captures the existential angst of two brothers, stuck in a moment in time, facing uncertainty in an uncertain environment. After the abandonment by their mother, Rusty James tries to emulate his big brother, Motorcycle Boy, who has returned from California to find Rusty, a petty thug, longing for the good old days of gang culture. 

Matt Dillion doesn’t do much for me as an actor, but I’ll admit that his performance here had a certain energy that could power a small vehicle. Matched alongside Mickey Rourke; Nic Cage; Larry Fishburne; Diane Lane and Dennis Hopper (in a small role),  Dillion disappears. Yet when he’s alone on screen, that’s where he excels. 

Rumble Fish is buried beneath all of those FFC films he is known for, so it doesn’t get talked about too much - nor praised! I’d seen it before, years back, alas it was lost on me. Revisiting it now, it reminded me of certain styles from the likes of Fellini, Jarmusch, Kazan, to name a few. Yet it is clearly coming from a man who was a hot commodity, whom decided that he wasn’t a studio guy and he wasn’t about to give them what they wanted. Instead he gave them a complative dysfunctional odyssey. 

Rumble Fish might seem like a step backwards when measured against The Godfather and Apocalypse Now; perhaps this was intentional. I personally think it deserves more praise, and at least more attention. Either that or we’re using the wrong measuring stick when it comes to film.

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