An intriguing anomaly in the career of Francis Ford Coppola, Rumble Fish initially baffled cinema audiences and studio executives with its arthouse-meets-film noir style.
A tale of estrangement and reconciliation, the film takes place over the course of one summer on the shabby streets of small town America. Disaffected and restless Rusty James (Matt Dillon) lives in the shadow of the absent older brother he idolises, the Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke). Abandoned by his mother and living with his alcoholic father (Dennis Hopper), he longs for the old days of the street gangs and spends his time hanging out with his girlfriend, Patty (Diane Lane), and his similarly aimless friends Midget (Larry Fishburne) and Smokey (Nicolas Cage). When his brother returns to town, Rusty hopes to gain guidance and wisdom from someone that people say is crazy.
With dreamlike black-and-white visuals that hark back to German expressionism and a powerful percussive score that underlines the movie’s romantic fatalism, the strange allure of Rumble Fish has not dimmed at all in the 35 years since it’s release.