In the movie, “Not Fade Away,” three teenage boys living in the New Jersey suburbs in the 1960s pool inspiration from Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to create their own sound.
They’re all talented musicians, like most of the musical scene in the 1960s, but they don’t have enough of what it takes to make it big. “Not Fade Away” shakes up what would be expected of a story about three guys who start a band, as they break apart and reunite more than once.
“My brother and his friends started a band. Not so many people know what became of them. In fact, like with most bands, you’ve never heard of them,” the film’s narrator, Evelyn (Meg Guzulescu) says in the beginning of the movie. Evelyn appears sparingly in the film in comparison to her brother, Douglas (John Magaro). He starts off as the drummer for the band, and later becomes the lead singer due to a series of circumstances.
This film is layered with actors, a script and music that are guaranteed to impress. Among those magical qualities, credit must be given where it’s due. David Chase, director and writer, brings the 1960s dream alive of starting a band in a garage. The rock ‘n’ roll dream, that is. Chase seems to have a solid understanding of what the music scene was like in the 1960s, as the band in the film successfully creates a sound that is adapted from the bands of the British Invasion.
It’s no doubt that a movie about music in the 1960s would include, well, music. Lead Belly makes an appearance, as well as The Twylight Zones, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and The Rolling Stones. These artists of the early years of rock ‘n’ roll, who are still relevant in today’s music scene, had everything from constructed lyrics with deep meanings to guitar sounds that tug heartstrings.
Douglas works as a ditch digger at a country club before he heads off to college and when he comes back from school for Thanksgiving break, he’s a different person due to the influence of the music scene that surrounds him and his band. He looks like Bob Dylan with bushy hair and shoes that his father calls “heels.”
“They’re Cuban boots,” Douglas sarcastically replied.
This movie is successful because it doesn’t create some fabricated image of the timeline it takes on, but it shows the reality of rock ‘n’ rollers, hippies, and the pot that both groups smoke. A film that focuses on the music and its hardships becomes dark halfway through when Douglas’s father, Pat (played by James Gandolfini, who delivers an amazing role, as always) tells his wife, Antoinette (Molly Price) something about his health.
Ditching college after a few semesters to find what he calls a family in music, Douglas later moves to Los Angeles with Grace, the beauty he snags who was his high school crush. In LA, the scene of rock ‘n’ roll has started to change into something Douglas is no longer quite familiar with.
The audience is greeted by Evelyn at the end of the film standing in the middle of the street dancing to Pipeline by The Twylight Zones. She explains that she wrote a term paper on America and two inventions that hold power.
She dances off of the screen as she leaves the audience to answer the question in her term paper.
“One is nuclear weapons. The other is rock ‘n’ roll. Which one is going to win out in the end?”