Plot summary (from the studio): It’s the 1960’s and rock and roll is changing the world. Inspired by a bold new era and his success in a local band, Douglas drops out of college to pursue his musical dreams, only to discover the harsh realities of the music industry. Douglas is forced to choose between listening to his father or listening to his heart in a film Rolling Stone calls “a gritty, graceful salute to Rock & Roll.”
Warning: Spoilers below!
- The soundtrack for this film was great — as it should have been, since the music supervisor reportedly spent about $2 million for rights to the various songs used. I’m not a child of the sixties, but I can still appreciate the Stones, the Beatles, and other featured bands.
- I’m glad there was no cheesy “happy ending” with Douglas and his band mates playing a sold-out stadium show or something. That would have been way too much. Still, it might have been nice to get at least a glimpse of what might have happened to Douglas in the future. Those who know the film was semi-autobiographical don’t have to speculate, but I’m sure there are some viewers wondering if he and his girlfriend became immigration lawyers in Los Angeles or simply went their separate ways for good.
- John Magaro (Douglas) was particularly bad. I didn’t like anything about him, and basically cringed whenever his smug mug was on screen (which of course was practically the entire film).
- While James Gandolfini was decent, his performance was essentially just Tony Soprano as a legit store owner instead of mob boss. All those scenes where he was bitching at Douglas could just have easily been Tony getting on AJ’s case.
- The ending was all kinds of random. I wouldn’t have minded if the credits rolled with Douglas wandering the streets of L.A. at 3:00 in the morning. That would have been fine. But to have the sister appear and start dancing in the middle of the street? WTF? David Chase really has a thing for fucked up endings, doesn’t he?
- The plot dragged in so many places. Nothing about Douglas’s relationship was interesting, and only about 1/3 of the band stuff held my attention. It just felt as though the story went absolutely nowhere in the two hour running time.
I’d never even heard of Not Fade Away before it became the iTunes $.99 Rental of the Week, and was surprised to learn that it received fairly wide distribution when it was released. I figured with David Chase and James Gandolfini involved, the film had a decent shot of some success. But it didn’t take long to see why this was a flop. It was long, slow, and boring, with a wholly unappealing lead actor and an out-of-left-field ending. At least the music makes the film somewhat watchable. I give this one 2 stars out of 5.