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Screens & Culture

'Not Fade Away' fades away

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

If Chase does anything novel with his film, it's imbue it with a reverence for music. Going beyond just providing a first-rate soundtrack, Not Fade Away imbues its characters with a naïve sense of discovery — not only through the songs they play but the songs they listen to and talk about. Whether it's the genius of Robert Johnson, the gravitational pull of record stores, or a deconstruction of Charlie Watts' approach to the Stones' cover of “Not Fade Away,” Chase captures how rock and roll became a doorway to imagination for kids cloistered, suffocated even, by the rhythms and routines of suburbia.

The cast of young unknowns is engaging enough, but it's Gandolfini who stands out. Though on the surface he seems to be playing an honest, blue-collar version of Tony Soprano, and there is an Archie Bunker berating Meathead quality to his arguments, Gandolfini gives Pat the kind of depth, regrets and desires few sons ever come to recognize. Both a father-son dinner and final goodbye are expertly underplayed, packing a wallop that other, more sentimental directors would botch.

In the end, Not Fade Away is a lot like Doug's band the Twilight Zones — it's engaging and has its moments, but it's just not good or ambitious enough to succeed.

Not Fade Away

★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

Writ. and dir. David Chase; feat. John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill (R)

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