Chicago International Film Festival 2012 Not Fade Away Directed by: David Chase Cast: John Magaro, Bella Heathcote, James Gandolfini, Will Brill Running Time: 2 hrs Rating: R Release Date: December 2012 (Chicago)
PLOT: Influenced by the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, 1960s teenager Douglas (Magaro) decides that he wants to be a rock star.
WHO'S IT FOR? This is a movie for anyone, young or older, who recognizes the influence that music has had in their life. It's certainly a movie for anyone who tried to start a band in hopes of becoming their idol.
Written and directed by "The Sopranos" creator Chase (this being his feature film debut), Not Fade Away is a thoroughly 1960s movie about living in the present, not the past, and not the future. Without getting lost in nostalgia, the movie has a lively sense to it, invigorated by its soundtrack and its desire to present the decade with a more personal aspect than we have seen before. Not Fade Away proudly has a non-BS presentation of the '60s, opening up viewers (such as myself, admittedly) to the different teenagers of a different decade. Before the musical inspiration even kicks in, Not Fade Away has a funny charm as a 1960s response to Superbad, featuring overly cussing young boys and their sexual naiveté, but this time excited about The Rolling Stones.
As Not Fade Away becomes about the journey of 99 percent of the rock bands assembled in garages by high schoolers with useless egos, the script adds a few nice touches to its ultimate message. However, with this focus, and time spent on characters that are simply not that interesting, the film's running time can slack. Magaro's character as well, embodied with possibly too much swagger to be fully believable, can sometimes be the audience's obstacle when it comes to embracing this movie's presentation of the era, for its better and worse aspects.
With no offense to Tom Hanks and his movie That Thing You Do!, Not Fade Away is the refreshing bizarro world version of that movie about a middle class pop band that got lucky. Here, these kids don't live the fantasy. Not Fade Away is emboldened by its realistic perspective, for such is one of the many truths that this film successfully plays across various bridged age gaps.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10