Plot – A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies them on their concert tour – Almost Famous.
Director – Cameron Crowe
Released – 2001
It’s hard not to find yourself charmed by Almost Famous, director Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical retelling of his experiences as young music journalist touring with various bands in the late ’60s/early ’70s, with his formidable piece of cinema working as both a young mans coming-of-age during the golden age of rock and story of love for both the people involves and the music as a whole.
The care taken in Crowe’s story is evident for all to see, his characters are complex and well thought out, none more so that William (Fugit), whose love for the music and desire to be part of this world causes him to struggle to keep the relationships he forms with both the musicians he meets and with Penny Lane (Hudson), the free-spirited groupie with dreams of moving to Morocco.
Crowe has also worked hard to give Almost Famous its own style and separate it from other rock movies, not solely focusing on drugs, sex and parties, but instead on the people involved and what attracted them to that world in the first place, with the drugs, sex and parties shown to be a corrupting influence and not the glamorous lifestyle seen from the outside.
While Fugit plays the main character exquisitely and the entire cast is made of terrific performances, it’s Kate Hudson who leaves the lasting impression as the unforgettable Penny Lane, stealing every scene she was in and beguiling everyone she comes into contact with, her bittersweet experience and the journey she goes on is what makes Almost Famous so charming, it’s no wonder she received a Golden Globe for this performance.
I must also give credit to Billy Crudup, whose charming and nuanced portrayal of Russell Hammond, helped make the bands biggest star and Penny’s true love feel likeable, despite his many flaws, while Frances McDormand is her usual wonderful self as William’s mother, who despite her worries, lets her son travel the country following his dreams in an attempt not to drive him away just like she did with her daughter (Zooey Deschanel). Philip Seymour Hoffman is also a wonderful addition to the cast as Lester Bangs, William’s mentor and cynical rock critic.
It’s a shame that more people didn’t go to see this film when it first came out, as Almost Famous is beautifully filmed, funny, touching, and one of those rare movies that despite its sometimes dark subject matter, leaves you feeling upbeat and that you can follow your dreams,
If you liked: Bohemian Rhapsody, This Is Spinal Tap, Rock Star