The creator of “The Sopranos” makes his theatrical debut with Not Fade Away, a coming-of-age romantic drama set against the 1960’s rise of rock bands. Unfortunately, the movie fades away much faster than intended.
John Margo stars as Douglas, a young man whose dream of becoming a musician continues to be sidetracked by the demands of life, and of his father (played by James Gandolfini, of course). As the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other bands make it big, he and his bandmates realize that success is just around the corner. In other news, he begins a relationship with his former high school crush Grace (Bella Heathcote).
Not Fade Away has a great soundtrack, good performances and several entertaining moments. David Chase, who wrote and directed the movie, has crafted a pleasing little story, but that is all it is: a pleasing little story. It isn’t poorly done, but Not Fade Away is a movie that has been done a thousand times before, and better.
When all is said and done, there is nothing remarkable about the movie. The romance between John and Grace lacks impact, and everything else feels like a retread of other movies. Margo turns in a fine performance, but his character is obnoxious and not particularly likable.
At 112 minutes, Not Fade Away also feels long. It drags in the third act and ends in an unsatisfying manner, with a completely out-of-place final scene. The romance fizzles rather than explodes, and nothing much comes from the characters’ developments. In the end, I’m not even sure what Not Fade Away is about.
Having watched the movie only a week ago, Not Fade Away is already fading away, into obscurity and the place where forgettable movies go to die.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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