Critics Consensus

Rudderless asks its cast to carry an awful lot of weight for its occasionally manipulative story; fortunately, this talented bunch -- led by Billy Crudup -- is often more than up to the task.



Total Count: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,037
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Movie Info

Billy Crudup plays Sam, a former high-profile advertising executive whose life is torn apart by the sudden death of his son. Living off the grid on a docked sailboat, he wastes away his days while drowning his pain in alcohol. When Sam discovers a box filled with his son's demo tapes and lyrics, his own child's musical talent is a revelation for him, a grieving father who felt he'd been absent from his son's life. Communing with his deceased son's dashed dreams, Sam learns each song and eventually musters the will to perform one at a local bar. When Quentin (Yelchin), a young musician in the audience, is captivated by the song, the unlikely duo forms a rock band that becomes surprisingly popular and revitalizes both of their lives. (C) Paramount

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Critic Reviews for Rudderless

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (17)

Audience Reviews for Rudderless

  • Sep 30, 2015
    A father discovers a box of tapes and joins a band which covers his dead son's songs. With a soaring, remarkable soundtrack, fantastic, touching performances by the whole cast, and an almost unmatched story, William H. Macy's directorial debut is a tour de force. The first act is a compelling story about recovery, and the second act explores the relationship between Sam, Billy Crudup's grieving father, and Quentin, Anton Yelchin's young, insecure musician, but it's the third act that turns the entire story on its head in a reveal that's both surprising and completely natural. Overall, this indie drama is incredible.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • May 05, 2015
    I don't want to give anything away, but this little indie gem tackles grief, guilt, parenthood, redemption - all with expertly revealed exposition, compassionate performances, and a soaring soundtrack.
    Alice S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 10, 2015
    I love "music" films and I love Anton Yelchin so I was really looking forward to this. Overall, I did really enjoy the film. But I do have some nitpicks. I know the story is really about Sam (Billy Crudup) and his journey. But I would have liked to see more insight on his son Josh. Especially since the twist reveals him to be the shooter. The movie never really gives us that sense that he is a kid about to go off his rails. If the movie couldn't have given us that insight, then I think it would have been better just making him one of the victim's of some nameless shooter. Secondly, Selena Gomez was the weakest actor of the bunch. I thought her first scene was good, but then when we see her again she was just so over dramatic to me. I didn't totally buy Quentin (Anton Yelchin) being so invested in Sam to the point where he would show up at his home the next day with coffee and doughnuts already wanting to work together. Based off one song he heard. I also didn't care for William H Macy inserting himself into his own film. The movie makes up for it though with really good music and a shining performance by Billy Crudup. It's worth a see.
    m h Super Reviewer
  • Jan 23, 2015
    I look at the film's reaction among people who watched this and I find myself asking if they even watched the same film as I did. It's not that it's bad, because it's not, as it benefits from a great performance by Billy Crudup and a really good soundtrack, but it just didn't hit me on a deeper level. And that's why, I'm assuming, the film was so positively received among people on this site. The film has a little wrinkle to the story that's not commonly done, so that adds a new perspective on a, seemingly, taboo theme to touch on in movies and that is school shootings. I won't spoil the "twist", even it's not really one, because that's one of the good things about this movie. But, admittedly, the film is a little more manipulative when it should've been as subtle as possible. A character study on what a father does once something like that happens, and this is where the wrinkle to the story comes into play. But the film chooses to go the overly sentimental route. And it doesn't work for me personally. I'd rather just see a story that reflects what actual human beings would do in this situation. Not a fictionalized, movie of the week on Lifetime thing. Don't get me wrong, this film is not that, because I think William H. Macy is a talented director, but if it was handled poorly then it very well could've reached those undesirable levels. It was very close to that. Very close. Again, I'm not speaking about the film's quality at all, I'm just talking about it was close to being poorly handled. And, to be honest, if it wasn't for the soundtrack and Billy Crudup, this would've gotten a much lower rating. Anton Yelchin is good and all, but I don't think he made the movie any better. And Felicity Huffman would've definitely made it better if she got more screen time. But I get the whole story about Sam connecting to his deceased son through the songs he left behind. It's not terribly inventive, but I get it and it's a decent story. Again, it's elevated by the songs and the lead in the film. In many ways, this is like every one of these films that you've ever seen. Another movie comes to mind with Lou Taylor Pucci and JK Simmons bonding over music. I forget the name, and I reviewed it on here, but it reminds me a LOT of that. So I KNOW I've seen this movie before and it's almost exactly as good as that other one. This one is worth a watch if you ever see it on cable tv and have nothing better to do. I realize that's not exactly a glowing endorsement of the movie, but I could think of worse ways to spend my time. This isn't something you need to go out of your way to see. Unless you love Billy Crudup that much, in that case, go ahead. He's great here, it's a shame the film isn't.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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