7 December 2012 | MosHr
A movie that insults the viewer.
"Not Fade Away" is one of those movies that leaves you with a bad taste after you watch the movie; it's like watching a movie by the resident cool kid in town, straddling the prettiest girl in one hand and on the other hand, going on about how he overcame his meager upbringing, dysfunctional family, disloyal friends to become who he is. The story might be genuine and the tribulations might be authentic but it's just the way it is told that makes it so unlikeable.
The movie does not have an ending (just an absurd tacked on one), creates handfuls of subplots that it never bothers to resolve and indulges heavily in the writer/director's own world of self-references and pointless pettiness. After furiously producing subplots like it's a pilot of a TV show it just ends, giving that unresolved what-ever-happened-to feeling that as a moviegoer I hate. The young Italian-American protagonist who is probably the writer/director himself doesn't have a real story to tell or a point to make. The story just meanders on and on, the key tension points leading absolutely nowhere. Rather than create a compelling story, the movie demands some sort of adulation for what it presents and ultimately insults the viewer assuming the viewer should feel privileged to hear the story rather than earning its merits.
"Not Fade Away" is advertised as a movie about a band trying to make it big; however this movie is more of a bizarre bake of 60s set pieces. There is the vintage music equipment show - the Rickenbachers, the Gretchs, the vintage Fenders and others; the vintage car show and then the 60s records - primarily an obsession with the Rolling Stones that are displayed in their big, shiny and loud glory. While the audience who were teenagers in the 60s might appreciate the shiny items of desire, the rest will find these shiny objects do not fill up a movie or compensate for a story. It's like a glossy vintage advertising brochure - pretty girls, rebellious rock stars and shiny things but not a story to tell.
The other major problem in the movie is the absolute opacity of its sub-characters. The father, the mother, the girlfriend, the band mates, the girlfriend's sister, the families are completely and utterly opaque. They keep doing bizarre things without showing or being to infer why they are doing what they are doing. Perhaps it's some sort of a 60s thing, a band thing, an Italian-American thing or a 60s band thing but I wouldn't know. The movie doesn't bother to really explain or resolve anything and it just bubbles up here and there and then it's gone. The movie is just a sequence of these strung together and it just makes all the characters unlikeable and tiring.
I like rock and roll movies but in this movie rock music neither serves as a backdrop for a personal story nor tells a story about the rock and roll greatness. The 60s backdrop overpowers the movie and the story feels like it's about a bunch of teenagers so in love with themselves that they feel they are the privileged ones. One scene comes to mind; an aunt comments, "I hear rock and roll keeps you young" to which our protagonist churlishly replies, "rock and roll is an art form. Does Dostoyevsky keep you young?"