Rumble Fish ★★½

”No, your mother... is not crazy. And neither, contrary to popular belief, is your brother crazy. He's merely miscast in a play. He was born in the wrong era, on the wrong side of the river... With the ability to be able to do anything that he wants to do and... findin' nothin' that he wants to do.”

The already immensely prestigious and respected Francis Ford Copolla released throughout the year of ’83 two new films of his making that surrounded similar thematics. They were both novel adaptations of stories that surrounded teenage violence and drug use inside the spectrum of juvenile gangs. The Outsiders was released first to a poor welcome which is no surprise anyways ‘cos the film itself was probably already dated back in the day; featuring some dreadful acting, bad dialogue and being marked by a sense of utter silliness, The Outsider tried to be Rebel Without a Cause but it rather turned out to be an embarrassment. Rumble Fish on the other and is a black-and-white feature that’s more mature, more edgy and more experimental; yet all the same unsatisfactory.

Rumble Fish covers the story of Rusty James, a seventeen year old kid whose father is a drunk and his older brother a renowned thug in the small town he lives in. Rusty James is lost; he doesn’t know himself and his inherently afraid of loneliness. He craves for a father figure and he finds it in the shape of his brother, a mysterious gangster with perhaps something to hide; The Motorcycle Boy is feared and that’s maybe due to the cheer coolness of his presence. Basically Rusty James wants to become his bro; an intelligent, respected and feared figure that’ll lead his town’s gangs.

This picture’s storyline is rather thin as we follow Rusty James through some fight sequences and even some orgies, but mostly he just meanders through town shadowing his brother. Even though Matt Dillon’s character is the lead one, truth is that Mickey Rourke’s The Motorcycle Boy, is by far the most interesting and intriguing figure to follow and invest in. His puzzling sensibilities and unexplained components make his character the most fascinating one. In addition, one must add that Rourke is a bad-ass motherfucker in here.

Rumble Fish despite its strong performances, alas at its end it is still a forgettable experience. Its stunning photography is far more memorable than anything else occurring in the picture. As one walks away from Rumble Fish, one isn’t particularly moved, truth is that the film’s images turn out to be more resonating than the storytelling itself.