Rumble Fish Reviews
The world created here is populated by interesting, albeit somewhat stereotypical characters. There is Steve (Vincent Spano), the nerd that gets to hang out with Steve. He is always writing down what he experiences as if it is not real to him unless he can read it. In some respects he serves as the conscience for Rusty James, always questioning while he has to be so angry. Donna (Sofia Coppola) is Patty's Boy sister and has the required crush on Rusty James. When Rusty comes over to Patty's house one night, Donna scoots in to try to cuddle next to him. She wants what her older sister has, a dangerous boyfriend. Smokey (Nicolas Cage) is the one that comes up with the idea of breaking in to a house to have a party. He also has the plot to take Patty away from Rusty James. The reason for the disapreance of their friend is attributed to the insidious plague of drugs, seen as the bane even in this outlaw world. Cassandra (Diana Scarwid) is a junkie, pretty but a joke among her peers. Like the character by the same name in Greek mythology, she speaks of doom that no one hears. In this setting violence comes with no reason, it is just part of their existence. They take want they want sure that their lives are short anyway.
A producer today could not afford to hire this cast now. This was a training ground for some of the best actors of their generation. Matt Dillion portrays Rusty James as a tragic figure, product of his surround but with the potential to be much more. Although he has some natural talent as a leader his position is in contention due to his eagerness to fight with little provocation. Mickey Rourke as the Motorcycle Boy is almost existential in nature. He is laconic, choosing his few words carefully. Like James Dean before him, a soft spoken, philosophical and always prevails in a fight. He talks to his brother at a local pet store teaching him about the rumble fish, musing that he doesn't think they would fight if they were back in the river. Diane Lane holds her own in this testosterone heavy cast with a sensitive portrayal of Patty, the girl that just fell in love with the wrong boy. Francis Ford Coppola must have done some of his castings at a family get together. Nicolas Cage, born Nicholas Coppola is the nephew of the director. He did this film right after Fast Time at Ridgemont High and Valley Girl. This was the first opportunity Cage had to so the mastery he has with darker, moodier characters. As you watch, you can witness the origins of so many of his great performances. Then there is Coppola's daughter Sofia as Donna. While her career would be more successful as a director, she instills a light almost comic touch to this dark film. Her brother Gino also has a small role here. Others that went on to greatness found here in the embryo are Laurence Fishburne and Chris Penn.
Francis Ford Coppola is one of the most sophisticated and stylized directors on the scene today. His real talent is the ability to paint detailed pictures with every scene. His use of color, symbolism, and lighting is unparalleled in cinema. Here with Rumble Fish, he takes an artier approach; he has referred to this movie as an art house film for teens. Since it is in black and white with the sole exception of the rumble fish in the aquarium, he has to depend on lighting to set and sustain the mood. You can see how this film influenced the more recent film noir, Sin City. He plays with the use of camera angles, pressing little to see the clouds whizzing by or the smash of a boot into someone. Coppola brings Rusty James' thoughts to life as he sees Patty in various stages of undress in class or when Rusty beat in a robbery he hovers over his body, looking down at how Patty, Donna and the gang take the news of his death. He then floats back into his body to be saved once again by The Motorcycle Boy. While some scenes may appear to be from a senior in film school, this is just a great director having some fun with his art.
bullet Audio Commentary featuring Coppola
bullet New interviews with Coppola, author and co-screenwriter S. E. Hinton, and associate producer Roman Coppola
bullet New Conversation between Burum and Production Designer Dean Tavoularis
bullet Pieces from 2005 about the Filmā(TM)s Score and Production
bullet Interviews from 1983 with actors Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, and Vincent Spano and producer Doug Claybourne
bullet French television Interview from 1984 with Actor Mickey Rourke
bullet Locations: Looking for Rusty James, a 2013 Documentary by Alberto Fuguet about the impact of Rumble Fish
bullet New Piece about the Filmā(TM)s Existentialist Elements
bullet "Donā(TM)t Box Me In" Music Video
bullet Deleted scenes
bullet PLUS: An essay by critic Glenn Kenny
Had the makings of a great story, but wasn't entirely coherent, or completely formed. Seemed contrived at times and basically didn't flow entirely well. Still, interesting enough.
Probably the highlight of the movie is all the appearances of current-day stars, before they were stars: Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Nicolas Cage (Francis Ford Coppola's nephew), Diane Lane, Chris Penn, Laurence Fishburne. Coppola's daughter Sophia gets a minor role, and there is a minor appearance by Tom Waits. Dennis Hopper is the only then-known-actor in the cast. All give good performances.