Rumble Fish

(Francis Coppola, USA, 1983)


Whatever one's opinion of hard drugs, films that unflinchingly and unmoralistically explore the drug experience and the junkie lifestyle can be as impressive as they are rare.

Rumble Fish, adapted from a novel by S. E. Hinton, is ostensibly about teenage delinquent gangs and tortured male relations between fathers, sons and brothers.

But Francis Coppola's extraordinarily stylised direction turns it into one long, indelibly disturbing heroin trip – with all signs of normal, everyday life going completely askew.

This is Coppola's dark masterpiece, a flip side to his more romantic treatment of Hinton's The Outsiders released the same year.

MORE drug films: Jesus' Son, J'entends plus la guitare

MORE Coppola: Apocalypse Now Redux, Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Godfather, Gardens of Stone

© Adrian Martin December 1992

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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