Starring: Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit
Director: Cameron Crowe
Running Time: 122 mins
Almost Famous is an American film about a 15-year-old boy who, after being given the opportunity to write for Rolling Stone, joins an up-and-coming rock and roll band on the road and has the experience of a lifetime.
Now, I’ve always been a little hesitant about watching this film, because it’s about the culture of 70s rock and roll, something I know nothing about, however I’m so glad that I’ve seen it now, because it’s so much more than just a music film. With the help of a brilliantly written screenplay, this film is a fascinating tale of unlikely bonds and relationships between all sorts of different people, whilst it’s a hugely touching and engrossing coming-of-age story.
To start, I’ve got to talk about how well the screenplay works in this film. As I said, I’m not a fan of this type of music and its background, but I could see perfectly that this is a very honest portrayal of the rock and roll era, seeing as it is a semi-autobiographical tale of director Cameron Crowe’s experiences on the road with bands such as Led Zeppelin and Eagles, so if you’re a fan of this sort of music, I’m sure it’ll be an absolute treat for you to watch.
However, don’t think for a moment that the setting excludes any non-music fans, because that’s actually not the main topic of the film. Instead, it’s a hugely heartwarming coming-of-age story of a fascinating and amazingly likeable central character, which grabs you right from the start and never lets you go.
Let’s talk about that central character. Admittedly, and especially in the eyes of his mother, he’s a little bit impulsive to go off with a rock band on tour for a few days, and whilst you may think that at the beginning, his warmth really wins you over as the film develops. To see him not only change himself, but to also change the more decadent people around him with his kindness is hugely inspiring, and, helped by the brilliant performance by Patrick Fugit, he’s never actually impulsive or stupid, but always a genuine, likeable young man.
What also adds to the emotion and intrigue of this film is that you get to see this young man’s coming of age from various different perspectives. On the one hand, you’ve got his worried mother, whose presence creates a real dilemma for you as a viewer as to whether what this kid is doing is right or sensible, heightening your own worry for him as he gets involved in all sorts of hijinks.
On the other hand, you get to see him from the perspective of one of the band’s ‘band-aids’ (effectively a young prostitute/groupie), who allows you as the viewer to enjoy this boy’s experiences as if it is genuinely just fun, rather than teenage stupidity, and that makes the film a whole lot more enjoyable when you initially worry that you’ll spend the whole film scared for the boy.
So, overall, this gets an 8.4, because it’s an engrossing and emotive coming-of-age tale (with a cool musical backdrop), lifted by strong performances and a stunning screenplay.