Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

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Parents' Guide to


By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Touching drama about father remembering lost son with music.

Movie R 2014 105 minutes
Rudderless Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 14+

Profound, great music

We watched this with kids 13 up. They thought it was really good. Well written and directed. Great conversations about the impact our lives and choices have on each other. While there is swearing, lots of excessive drinking, and they buy a lot of instruments, it seems fitting and real. Most of this is from the dad who lost his son and is heart broken. As a mom, I was moved by the desire this father had to know his son and homuch kids push away in their teen years.

This title has:

Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 16+

A tremendous revelation allowing parents to exorcise false demons of guilt.

The toughest subject matter on earth for parents of a child. If it happens, do you as mother or father just hide... or do you face the demons and everyone on earth that will point fingers at you for creating a murderer???? I applaud the film and how sensitive matters are handled by a loving father of a young man that lost his mind and went off in a shooting spree in the library of a college. I also share compassion for the mother. She was forced into taking a second look at her son's pain and the genius in his songwriting. Both parents have another experience based on love and compassion for their son - rather than the shame of the act itself. Every human is born innocently as a new born baby child. Somewhere along the path of life, a child gets lost or develops psychological illnesses that can become deadly. What is accomplished when we add hatred and condemnation to family, former friends, girlfriends or wives of young suicide killers? Nothing but more negativity.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

This poignant film plucks from the headlines a tragic and all-too-painful story and explores what happens when parents experience the worst and have their hearts torn to bits. The actors are what make the film so watchable -- especially Crudup; Sam's grief is physically manifested in gestures as economical as a shrug. He's fantastic with Yelchin, who plays the boy who rescues Sam from his dense fog with empathy and companionship, especially in their musical interludes (both actors seem so comfortable with their guitars that they might as well be musicians). Crudup is also great with Felicity Huffman, who plays Sam's equally mournful ew-wife.

William H. Macy, who makes his directorial debut with Rudderless and has a cameo as a bar owner, keeps an easy but still fairly tight hold on the reins. But he doesn't paint a three-dimensional picture of Josh, whose death somewhat anchors the story. For that matter, Sam still feels amorphous: What kind of dad was he before that fateful day? What kind of mom was his wife? How can the audience care about who they've become after such profound loss if they don't know who they are as parents in the first place? But the story is still moving -- and sobering, too. And not so easy to forget.

Movie Details

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