Not Fade Away

Directed By: David Chase

Starring: John Magaro, Will Brill, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcoate, Brad Garrett, James Gandolfini, and Christopher McDonald

It's January.  What that means is that good new movies are hard to find at the box office.  Whether you're an action junkie or an indie lover, you're in for a drought for the next couple of months.  The holdovers from November and December are here to stay through the awards season.  At this point, studios are gearing up to release movies that aren't really worth your time.  David Chase's rock 'n' roll indie drama Not Fade Away is the perfect example of this.

Against his parents' (James Gandolfini and Molly Price) wishes, Douglas (John Magaro) drops out of college and forms a rock 'n' roll band with his friends Eugene (John Huston) and Wells (Will Brill).  His dad Pat has always told him that making dreams come true is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.  It looks like Douglas took his advice literally.  Huge fans of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and other bands of the era, these boys try to emulate their idols by playing covers of their favorite songs.  As the band becomes more popular in their New Jersey hometown, discord arises over who the lead singer should be.  Meanwhile, Douglas pursues Grace Dietz (Bella Heathcoate), a girl he's liked since high school.

With the bonus soundtrack of a fellow moviegoer snoring half the movie, I'm certain that Not Fade Away is a sleeper.  With the backdrop of the JFK assassination and the civil rights movement, Not Fade Away is a bearable period piece with enjoyable musical numbers from the 60's.  The cast even delivers decent performances.  Nonetheless, director David Chase does nothing to make the film interesting beyond the music.  The dramatization of this story is just stale, and Not Fade Away is consequently a boring affair overall.  It's a really dry film that drags and makes shuteye an easy option.  It won't hold your attention even though there are some good tunes. 

Beyond being a bland film, Not Fade Away leaves a lot of loose ends and tangential themes.  For a film that doesn’t really interest me, it is surprisingly dissatisfying.  In typical indie fashion, the film ends in a way that leaves the story open to interpretation.  However, Chase leaves a bit too much open in my opinion and introduces something almost entirely new at the end.  The romance between Douglas and Grace is left up in the air, and Douglas's sister Evelyn (Meg Guzulescu) closes the film with a theme that had only been touched upon briefly throughout the film.  All in all, the film leaves a sour taste in my mouth with the way that it ends.

Not Fade Away gets a 0.09% rating.  The longer this film goes, the less interested you'll be.  Time is not on David Chase's side.  Have some whiskey sours with this one.