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Monday, December 24, 2012

Not Fade Away Review

Paramount Vantage
Not Fade Away Review
2012, 112 minutes
Rated R for pervasive language, some drug use and sexual content

This film marks the directional debut of David Chase, best-known for creating the hit TV series "The Sopranos" and it is definitely a mixed bag.  This is the perfect case of a perfectly fine film being derailed by an inept ending.

Not Fade Away follows a group of teenagers in the 1960s who try (and fail) to become the next big rock and roll band.  Sound like Almost Famous?  It should as it is very similar, albeit inferior, to Almost Famous.

This review will be divided up into two sections: what works, and what doesn't.  I will start with the "what works" section.  The acting in this film is pretty good, but not anything special.  James Gandolfini, however, is the standout.  Gandolfini has appeared in quite a few films that have been released recently, including Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty.  He plays Pat, the main character's tough-love father, with great sincerity and truth.  He has energy and a big heart that no other actors have in this film (partially because they aren't given much of a chance to shine).

The soundtrack for the movie is also fantastic featuring music from many 1960s rock groups such as The Rolling Stones.  The music also gives the movie a little jolt.

Now I'll move to the "what doesn't work" section.  The ending.  Plain and simple.  I enjoyed Not Fade Away up until the end.  Up until then, it was a perfectly enjoyable, albeit very generic, nostalgia picture.  However, the ending, or lack of, came along and completely derailed the film.  The movie didn't end.  It provided no closure (I don't necessarily need closure, but it is nice to have something that resembles an ending) and seemed like Chase didn't know how to end the film, so he just decided to leave us and wrap the move up with a little "food for thought" speech (the "food for thought", however, is nothing original or remotely interesting) that comes out of nowhere and is awkwardly placed and performed (you'll know exactly what I mean if you see it).  While I thought Red Lights had a terrible ending, at least it seemed like the filmmakers actually tried for something interesting.  This is just the result of laziness.

In addition to the ending, I didn't care for any of the characters, except maybe Gandolfini's, and the story took some eye-rollingly cliche turns, but still managed to be somewhat enjoyable.

Overall, Not Fade Away is not worth the money to see (my show was free, so I can't complain about paying to see something this unsatisfying).  It is a serviceable film that adds nothing new to the "nostalgia movie" genre.  I just seriously cannot believe that someone dared end a movie this way.

-Joshua Handler

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