Rumble Fish ★★★½

3.5/5.0 = Great

I know this is Francis Ford Coppola, but I can’t help comparing this to the work of Gus Van Sant. In many ways, RUMBLE FISH is just DRUGSTORE COWBOY-but-good, and MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO-but-less-ballsy, kind of falling into a weird middleground of highly stylized formalist filmmaking and linear storytelling. Aesthetically, this is pretty much a home run. Even stuff that reads as dated today (notably the timelapse city footage) is quite stimulating - I greatly commend Coppola’s knack for visual storytelling. Narratively, it’s a little all over the place, but I kind of love that about it! What really sucks the life out of the film is the shoddy ADR work. Clearly Coppola was onto something, carefully tackling the nuances of teen banter (a far cry from the stylized mobster swag of THE GODFATHER and the alcoholically dejected poetics of APOCALYPSE NOW), but I think they lost some of that magical spontaneity in ADR; it all comes across as really hokey - which is sad because the talent on screen is unquestionable. As a rioutous gang film, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE blows this out of the water, but as a character study on the behavior of jaded American youth, this is a total firecracker!