Almost Famous Review

The turn of a new millennium can only mean one thing. No looking forward, only reflection. A grasp at the glory days. Once more we go into the well-trodden unknown. Amazing to think that, only sixty years ago, drug references, sex in lyrics and violence were all taboo subjects. Gone are the glory days that I never lived. Almost Famous is a fictional document of life in a touring band, the outsider journalist looking to capture the warring factions within, and shoehorns a whole host of romantic and coming-of-age moments into it also. Spilling over the edges, seeping out of the sides and ready to burst, it could go either way with this love letter to the past.

Within Almost Famous is despicable American sentimentalism. A yelp of desire for the glory days, by filmmakers who were mere twinkles in the eye of their parents at the time. Cameron Crowe directs some familiar faces around the streets of the early 70s. His semi-autobiographical moments are tremendous, he puts his own memory and that of the period to good use. Capturing the essence of the rockstar lifestyle, the dying days of the rock and roll system is on full display here. Fractured bandmates, the overindulgence of drink, sex and drugs captured with resolute confidence, Almost Famous is strong at times, but struggles tremendously with random bouts of filler.

Filled with cliché and banal conversations, Crowe becomes his own worst enemy. Showing the jarring differences between journalist and musician, Almost Famous does a good job of having great scenes, but when focus is drawn to its dialogue and its characters, it almost comes apart. A little long at times, spending our time on a cramped tour bus with these characters soon provides a sense of Stockholm syndrome. Our more veteran actors, Frances McDormand and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, give their all in some strong supporting roles, and half the time they’re isolated in their own homes, rather than on the road. Patrick Fugit acts as a messenger between the two, a conduit for our story to flow through. His two lives crash into one another, spilling over between new persona and family life. It’s a nice mixture, one that Fugit performs well, he holds his own alongside some of the all-time greats.

A lengthy feature depicting the various heavy hitters of the music industry and the journalism that kept strong quality control therein, Almost Famous depicts a set of people who have inspired the minds of millions. Almost Famous is great. The mere peppering’s of Lester Bangs are enough to win me over. Ironic that I criticise movies for the same soppy mentality, but I can’t help myself. For the same reason I enjoy How to Build a Girl for its insight into criticism and those bold few who are breaking down the doors of a magazine to peddle some of their craft. It’s a bold story that crops up in film from time to time, Crowe crafts a great film here, plenty of references to the great albums of the time and performances that do a great job of showcasing a coming-of-age story surrounded by once in a lifetime moments.

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