Film Review: ‘Not Fade Away’ is a Slice of Rock ‘n Roll Heaven

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CHICAGO – It seems impossible today to get a sense of what it was like around 1964, when rock music changed forever with the “British Invasion” of The Beatles. But writer/director David Chase (“The Sopranos”) brings that distinct energy back with the nostalgic and incendiary “Not Fade Away.” Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

The second wave of the “invasion,” which included The Rolling Stones, is the inspiration for the 18-year-old boy in New Jersey, whose life is about to change forever because of the sonic blast from overseas. The fab wonder of “Not Fade Away” is that it feels in the moment, so it’s not about the cars, trends or clothing of the era – although that is letter perfect – it is about the music, and the effect the music has on a generation lost in space. It’s time to join the band, and the process of doing that – with all the riffs and sorrows – is achingly portrayed, including the anger of a father who just doesn’t understand. As Chase proved as the creator of “The Sopranos,” it’s not always about what is on the surface.

Douglas Damiano (John Magaro) is a New Jersey boy on the cusp of college in the seminal year of 1963. He lives in working class splendor with this father Pat (James Gandolfini), mother Antoinette (Molly Price) and sister Evelyn (Meg Guzulescu). He is sitting in a dorm room when the tinny sounds of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” comes through the radio, and right through his soul. The year includes the breakthrough from his new favorite group, The Rolling Stones, and Douglas is inspired to start a band.

This decision starts a journey that will lead Douglas through four revolutionary years in America’s history. He morphs from an awkward teen to a Bob Dylan-esque rock god, and even impresses his high school crush, Grace (Bella Heathcoate). The problem is with his WWII veteran father, who doesn’t care about the pursuit of music or what is happening to his son’s attitude. As many experienced in that hotbed time, it was a clash of generations that had the potential to destroy relationships.

“Not Fade Away” continues its limited release in Chicago on December 28th. See local listings for show times and theaters. Featuring John Magaro, James Gandolfini, Molly Price, Brad Garrett, Christopher McDonald and Meg Guzulescu. Written and directed by David Chase. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Not Fade Away”

John Magaro
Douglas (John Magaro) Contemplates his Future in David Chase’s ‘Not Fade Away’
Photo credit: Paramount Vantage

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Not Fade Away”

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