“I always tell the girls, never take it seriously, if ya never take it seriosuly, ya never get hurt, ya never get hurt, ya always have fun, and if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.”
Almost Famous gives a glamorous, star studded look backstage at the 70’s music scene and a peek into music journalism.
The story is of William Miller (Patrick Fugit); son of a protective and conservative mom (Frances McDormand) and brother to a rebellious sister (Zoey Deschanel) who gives him the greatest gift of his life: her collection of records ranging from Simon&Garfunkel to The Who. “Listen to Tommy with a candle burning, and you will see your entire future,” she tells him in a note, referring to the classic double album by The Who. William listens to it and gets instantly sucked into the the universe of Rock and Roll.
Here the movie jumps a few years and we see 15 year old William in high school. He’s shy, somewhat awkward and younger than his grade but that’s overpowered by his sweet demeanor and discreet charm. Patrick Fugit does a wonderful job, especially considering that this was his first major film.
William writes for Creem Magazine and one day he meets the Editor Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two befriend each other. Bangs assigns him to a story on Black Sabbath so he goes to their concert but the doorman won’t let him in. To cut a long story short, he meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), the leader of the so called “Band-Aides”, who gets him in the door. He doesn’t get to interview Black Sabbath but instead he meets Stillwater, who, after William praises their music, allows him to hang backstage with them. After the show, Russell (Billy Crudup) invites William to meet up with Stillwater in LA. So William sneaks off the LA and spends the next weeks of his life with the band, writing a narrative about them for Rolling Stone Magazine.
The screenplay is written by and based on director Cameron Crowe’s life as a young reporter for Rolling Stone. Instead of the band Stillwater, Crowe toured with the Allman Brothers Band. The near plane crash actually happened and Crowe based the character of Russell on Eagles guitar player Glenn Frey.
The production design is aesthetically pleasing and showcases the and allure, however falsely glamorized, of the seventies. The costumes are wonderful; from simple leather jackets and bell bottoms to Penny’s flashy fur coats and purple sunglasses; a wardrobe I, personally, would kill for.
While the acting is great and everyone’s performances are perfect- even Seymour Hoffman’s acting is truly wonderful even though he has but a small role-the weakest part of the film is the character’s lack of connection with me. While I did ache for Penny and couldn’t help but love William and have a soft spot for Russell and Jeff (Jason Lee), I just didn’t feel strong emotions. Yes, all the characters were likable but after investing two hours of my life in this movie, I didn’t feel as emotional as I thought I should have.
Almost Famous was nominated for four Oscars (including Kate Hudson and Frances McDormant for best supporting actresses) and took home the award for best screenplay at the 2001 Academy Awards.
I thoroughly enjoyed Almost Famous because, besides movies, classic rock is my passion (Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Petty…you name it) as well as seventies fashion, so I loved everything about the film, especially the backstage aspect. I had particularly high expectations going into it, just because it is so up my alley of interests. Though my expectations were not 100% met, Almost Famous is a charming, heartwarming, appealing and exceptionally well-made piece of cinema.
On another note, I made an about me page. Check it out!