I’ve seen a flurry of films lately that defy classification. This is not a bad thing, either; this simply means they are so broad in scope and/or vision that they are hard to stick into a single genre. THE RAMBLER is definitely one of those films. Filled with vivid surrealism and near hallucinogenic themes, this film is one you must see to believe. Part thriller, part drama, part dark-comedy, and part horror, it is an epic trip into madness and beyond.
If you are not familiar with THE RAMBLER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:
Dermot Mulroney of THE GREY and ZODIAC stars as an ex-con just released from prison, kicked out of his trailer home, and gone on a cross-country journey to his long-lost brother’s pony ranch. But along the way, he’ll encounter a depraved American underbelly of dusty towns, bizarre strangers, sudden violence, and a device that can record dreams onto VHS. Lindsay Pulsipher (“Justified”, “True Blood”) and Natasha Lyonne (AMERICAN PIE) co-star in this surreal Sundance sensation about shadowy pasts, questionable futures, and the deadpan traveling man known only as THE RAMBLER.
Watching this film caused memories of years past to bubble to the surface in my brain. Specifically, memories of watching films like David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET and Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS. I can see subtle influences of both directors in this one. But whether homage or mimicry, the result is a wild yet vastly entertaining powerhouse of a film.
THE RAMBLER is shot very well, although some of the camerawork looks as if the cinematographer was tripping on acid at the time it was done. Again, this is not a bad thing…if anything, it heightens the exotic mood of the film. It is noteworthy to mention for those who fancy such stylized material.
The acting is top notch as well, with Dermot Mulroney leading a bizarre but talented cast. I first saw Mulroney’s work way back in the late 80s with his portrayal of Dirty Steve Stephens in YOUNG GUNS, and I have enjoyed it ever since. Co-star Lindsay Pulsipher, who fans of TRUE BLOOD will recognize as were-panther Crystal Norris, does an excellent job as well; she portrays The Girl, a semi-real love interest The Rambler interacts with on his journeys. The rest of the cast is great, too, a wide and varied group of individuals that help to create the insane world The Rambler inhabits.
My sole complaint about THE RAMBLER is that it offers no explanation as to what in the hell is actually going on in the film. I really enjoyed the movie experience overall, because it is wonderfully bizarre and equally vivid…but the lack of exposition left me scratching my head at the end. Maybe I missed some symbolism, or maybe it’s meant to be open to interpretation without any cues; I’m not sure either way. This is not a huge detraction for me, but I do feel it is worth mentioning.
Still, THE RAMBLER is a fascinating film to watch. It’s almost a step-by-step guide into madness. It also has some amazing gore, an aspect which I was surprised to see. I recommend giving this one a look, if anything to see just how far down the rabbit hole it might take you. The film hits store shelves tomorrow, June 25, 2013.