Rumble Fish is another Francis Coppola picture that’s overwrought and overthought with camera and characters that never quite come together in anything beyond consistently interesting. Beautifully photographed in black and white by Stephen H. Burum, the picture [from the novel by S. E. Hinton] really doesn’t need all the excessive symbolism Coppola tries to cram into it.
For those who want it, however, Fish is another able examination of teenage alienation, centered around two brothers who are misfits in the ill-defined urban society they inhabit.
One, Matt Dillon, is a young tough inspired to no good purposes by an older brother, Mickey Rourke, once the toughest but now a bit of an addled eccentric, though remaining a hero to neighborhood thugs.
Dillon and Rourke turn in good performances as does Dennis Hopper as their drunken father and Diane Lane as Dillon’s dumped-on girlfriend.
Title and a lot of the symbolism stem from Siamese fighting fish (photographed in color composite shots) which are unable to coexist with their fellows, or even an image of themselves.