Rumble Fish ★★★★

Coppola called this an art film for teens, and it certainly does have the look and feel of something by Antonioni or Fellini grafted together with a coming of age type 80's teen film. For some, the cinematography might call too much attention to itself what with all the low angled shots and shadows and smoke and fog, but it certainly is lovely to look at. The story just sort of meanders around Rusty James (Dillon) idolization of his older brother, Motorcycle Boy (Rourke) and his desire for a dream gone by. There are some fights, some drinking, some sex, and some drama, but the story is definitely secondary to the style and feel. We aren't given a time frame, but late 60's/70's seems right, and the town is never named. Basically, Motorcycle Boy used to be the big man, and quite the brawler, but he left for California, leaving Rusty James assuming (and only assuming) a role as the leader, but the gang isn't really interested in being a gang. The early fight with Biff shows us that only Rusty James and Biff have any real interest; everyone else is just along to watch, or out of habit. Motorcycle Boy returns and he's obviously a changed man, no longer interested in gangs or fighting. The rest of the film is mainly concerned with whether Rusty James can find a different dream to chase, or something like that. There's no big message, no epiphany, no tying up loose ends, but it is quite nice to look at. I probably avoided this at the time because I thought it would be a rehash of "The Outsiders" which was OK, but predictable. What with "The Warriors," "The Wanderers," "Streets of Fire," and all the other teens in the streets movies around that time, I probably just lumped it in with them, but while the milieu is similar, the execution is something else altogether.

Jim liked these reviews