One aspect of Almost Famous that makes it so watchable is the fact that it feels like it could have been a true story. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were many bands watching this movie and recognising the different aspects in their own touring, early days or even break-up. The movie focuses on Stillwater, a band who are just starting out and about to embark on a huge tour which could make or break their careers. To help capture this, we get the inside track from young amateur journalist William Miller, who offers the audience the great chance to be the inexperienced eyes into the world of “Rock and Roll” in the 70s.
The first element is how impressive Stillwater is as a band. This is not a parody and you believe these people are rock stars. They have a great dynamic, and although they take inspiration from a host of other bands and other stories, they are never caricatures or cheap imitations of anyone else. Billy Crudrup is the elusive frontman and plays the “troubled artist” perfectly. Jason Lee is the rival to Crudrup’s Russell Hammond and represents the conscious of the band. Anyone who knows anything about music will see where the difficulties and rifts will emerge but it is done so well that you enjoy the scenes as they play out.
This is not a movie just about the band though. It also takes in the people around the band. The “Band-Aids” who see themselves as more than Groupies, supporting the music, are led by Kate Hudson’s almost mysterious Penny Lane, who helps inexperienced journalist William Miller, played by Patrick Fugit, traverse this all new experience. Hudson has her own story arc, one that takes in the best of being a “groupie” and of course the worse, highlighting how fleeting being dedicated to this sort of life truly is.
Not that this is a film which focuses too much on the hardships. They are always there but adding to them is more raucous, bizarre and absurd moments which you hear about in the pages of Rolling Stone or in aged rocker’s autobiographies. These scenes are all fantastic and keep you hooked throughout. As silly and absurd as some these exploits can be though, it is the quieter moments, like the group bonding over a shared rendition of Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, which add the most depth to the film.
It would be easy for a movie like this to ruin the ending with a cheap success story or a simple break-up but Almost Famous is smarter, and more real, than that. It has a satisfying ending which causes heartbreak and demonstrates that there are actual consequences for the actions of this band. It also manages to shine a great spotlight on how fleeting this success can be and how easily it can be snatched away.
Overall, Almost Famous showcases life on the road for a fledging rock band perfectly. Seen through the innocent eyes of a young journalist, it covers the highs and lows, the bizarre and tender, while demonstrating a satisfying conclusion. It isn’t real but it feels like it could be.
Rating – 4.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
As always get in touch below with a comment but also like our page on Facebook (Distinct Chatter) or follow us on Twitter – @distinctchat