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“Not Fade Away” Review: Buy the soundtrack, not a ticket

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“Not Fade Away” Review: Buy the soundtrack, not a ticket

Wesley Emblidge

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John Magaro in “Not Fade Away”

Nostalgia is a tool that must be done very carefully when used in film. If it’s too heavily relied on, it can alienate the audience that isn’t from the referenced era. However most films are able to achieve a good balance between nostalgia and story, letting it take a backseat to the characters. “Not Fade Away,” the feature directorial debut of David Chase (creator of “The Sopranos”), fails on this level immensely. It relies so heavily on nostalgia from the 1960s (including a lot of great music), and other events from Chase’s life in New Jersey, that it completely forgets about making us like the characters or telling us an interesting story.

The film centers on Douglas (John Magaro), who you would assume is Chase’s version of himself, is the most insufferable, pretentious little prick. He starts off as a kind of quiet, nerdy kid, but as the film progresses he just becomes more and more unlikable. It’s mostly the fault of Chase’s writing, but Magaro (who I really liked in “Liberal Arts” earlier this year) doesn’t do the role any favors either, going on and on in his nasally voice about how all he wants to do is write music. The film follows Douglas through arguments with his family, fellow band members and his very bland and uninteresting girlfriend.

For the most part, it seems like Chase is more interested in reliving moments of his childhood than he is in making an enjoyable movie. However at the same time, Chase focuses on other seemingly random subplots, like Doug’s girlfriend Grace’s (Bella Heathcote) sister being a crazy drugged-out hippie or Doug’s sister that, for no explainable reason, narrates the entire film. In the end, this film is really just a nostalgia-fueled mess that wastes all it’s potential. There may be great music, and a really good performance by James Gandolfini as Douglas’ father, but aside from those there isn’t much that’s all that remarkable. It would be just average if it wasn’t so painfully long, seemingly never ending. When it finally does end, ir’s on a really strange note. If you were a young adult in the 60s then you’ll get a kick out of all the nostalgic elements, but anyone else should steer clear of it.

Just buy the soundtrack instead.

 

2.5/5 Stars

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“Not Fade Away” Review: Buy the soundtrack, not a ticket