When faced with the prospect of a familiar performer making the transition into a multi-hyphenate role, we, as audience members can experience a range of thoughts and emotions about said career moves. In the case of William H. Macy, the talented actor who has enjoyed a stellar career as a notable supporting player, the decision left me wondering what took him so long. The slide into the director’s chair for Rudderless felt as effortless as could be, which could have been surprising, given the subject matter.
A father (Billy Crudup), grieving for a son lost in an on-campus shooting, unearths a box of the boy’s recorded and annotated music. By chance, the man encounters an eager young man (Anton Yelchin), full of musical promise, and the two stumble their way into forming a band on the foundation of the dead son’s songs. Rudderless, even with its emotional twists, never cashes in on simple sentiment. With Crudup and Yelchin singing, playing and acting their hearts out, Macy conducts a pitch-perfect indie narrative that swings. (R) Grade: B+