December 12, 2007

Film review: Rumble Fish

by Saulo Saturnino


1982 Universal Studios.
LENGTH: 94 minutes.
Based in the novel by S.E. Hinton
SCREENPLAY: S.E. Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola.
PRODUCERS: Fred Roos and Doug Clayborne

Movies represent a particular form of art that uses images, actors' performances, soundtracks. In the environment of cinemas, they hit our brains and hearts with condensed emotions and messages transmited in few hours. Books, using reading and imagination, give us a wide-range of interpretations, and, on an individual basis, allow lots of possibilities in exploration of contents. In this way they should not be compared in terms of quality, but frequently we proceed so when novels are adapted to movies. Doing this, most of the times we tend to be disappointed with movies because, when the scope is limited, we are prone to understand this as a failure to transmit a message. Surprisingly, sometimes a movie seems much better than the book that inspired it and we start to ask how could it have happened?

Rumble Fish is a very good example of this rare situation and there is an obvious explanation: Francis Ford Coppola. Using poetry to develop a subject quite common, having an extraordinary talent to choose and explore the cast and being technically perfect he acommplishes this very difficult mission. Rusty James ( Matt Dillon ) is a teenager without any perspectives of future, who tries to build his identity based on values of street gangs. His father, an alcoholic former lawyer who was abandoned by his wife, was played majestically by Dennis Hopper. The major goal of Rusty James is to be like his brother, the Motorcycle Boy ( Mickey Rourke ), a well-educated boy that dangerously walks in the thin line between extreme intelligence and insanity and transmits all the hopelessness you imagine that could exist. Here we see clearly Francis Ford Coppolas ability to put the right piece in the right place; known as an actor with limited resources, Mickey Rourke here makes viewers wonder whether he has actually improved as an actor or if he is just being himself. His performance in Barfly, with Faye Dunaway, points to the first option.

Mixing major talents with promises of future, using technical resources like black and white and colors eventually, making metaphorical criticism to the standard social demands, Coppola shows us the limitations that we, as a society, have when accepting something that does not fit in two standard deviations above or below. Additionally, we have a funny comment about aging by Tom Waits and a young Nicholas Cage giving us the impression that Nicholas Cage will be forever Nicholas Cage regardless of the character played.If you have neither read the book or seen the movie and are look for some advice, go first to the cinema.
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1 comment:

Carla Raguseo said...

Dear Saulo,

I loved your review. I am a great movie fan but I still haven't seen Rumble Fish, which has such an outstanding cast and was directed by one of my favorite filmmakers of all times.

I agree books and movies should not be compared in terms of quality, as they usually are, since they appeal and have an impact on our senses and understanding in a different way.

Thanks for including the links to the trailer and the interview. They are great!

Congratulations on your work!

Carla Raguseo
EFL teacher from Rosario, Argentina