Film Review: Almost Famous

The other day I was scrolling through Netflix with the dilemma that so many people have. Oh so much time to waste and nothing to watch, and them I came across Almost Famous. I’d heard the name before but had never seen it so I decided to give it a go.

Photo by Javier Aguirre
Photo by Javier Aguirre

The 2000 film is based on the life story of Cameron Crowe a veteran writer who began as a music journalist for Rolling Stone at the age of fifteen.

William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is a high school student living in San Diego who is passionate about rock and roll and aspires to be a writer. He sends some of his articles to Lester Bangs (Phillip Seymor Hoffman), an established music journalist. Bangs is charmed by William’s desire to write and his love for music and gives him the assignment of writing an event cover piece of a Black Sabbath concert.

This is the turning point for William, at the concert he is stopped at the door and meets several groupies, whoops not groupies, “band-aids” and makes friends with their leader Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) who is a devout lover of rock and roll and those who create it. After the girls leave he finds his own way into backstage by eliciting the attention of the band Stillwater with his knowledge of their music.

The article that William writes on Stillwater gains the attention of Rolling Stone, who then hire William to follow Stillwater on tour and gain an exclusive feature length article on the band. He manages to finagle his way out of the grasp on his helicopter mother (Frances McDormand) and heads out on the first great adventure of his life. Although he is meant to act as a silent observer to the events that unfold he quickly finds himself intertwined in the relationships, friendships, and wild behavior of the tour members.

As a whole I really liked it. I was surprised at how invested I was in the characters and the story line. It all came together really nicely. There weren’t many surprises, but it did give me something to think about. The film plays with a lot of themes: the true value in art, loyalty within friendships and relationships, the value of the truth from a journalists perspective, and many more.

I thought that the performances were commendable from the majority of the cast. Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) was one of my favorite characters. She reminded me of Holly Golightly, and Hudson really portrayed the multiple layers of the character well. Lester Bangs (Phillip Seymor Hoffman) was one of those minor characters who steals the show. Throughout the film he provides William with sage pieces of advice and Hoffman handles the role with grace. He delivers my favorite quote from the film. While talking to William he says “the only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” Last but not least Patrick Fugit gives a wonderful performance as the leading character. The innocence and thirst for new experiences really feels authentic, but he is also able to dig deeper when it comes to the scenes that show some of the not so glamorous sides of life on tour.

Have you seen Almost Famous?

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