Rumble Fish ★★★★½

"You know, if you lean a mirror up against the glass, they try to kill themselves fighting their own reflection."

Rumble Fish is the second S. E. Hinton adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola, filmed just after the all-star casted The Outsiders. Matt Dillon stuck around for Rumble Fish, playing teen gang member Rusty James, younger brother of the feared "Motorcycle Boy," the gang's former leader.

Motorcycle Boy is an enigmatic figure who is simultaneously the idol and antithesis of Rusty James. The hum of his bike is akin to the purr of a carnivorous feline on the prowl. Little is known about him (even to his own brother), yet his presence always looms in the background, prepared to step in at any moment. His complexity intrigues Rusty James, who is trapped in a cyclic path of hot-headed self-destruction. Motorcycle Boy, possessing painfully earned wisdom beyond his years, knows time is running out, and that soon enough Rusty James will have made the same mistakes he has.

Coppola brilliantly sets the stage for this powerful coming-of-age story with the film's aesthetic, constructing a noir atmosphere through gorgeous black and white in stark midnight contrast. The alleys are dim and desolate, and the pavement is perpetually damp, blanketed in a thick layer of fog. A percussive, jazz-inspired, rattlesnake-like score sits in the underbrush, a ticking time bomb reflective of Rusty James.

This is a film of the real and the surreal, of the foreign and the familiar, but most of all it is a film of brothers. And just like the titular rumble fish, you and your brothers belong in the river.

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