Not Fade Away is set mostly in New Jersey in the 1960s. This is the time when Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones make their American TV debut via the Dean Martin-hosted special. The movie is a little bit autobiographical and worth the watch despite its muffled quality.
The movie is about a fan Douglas Damiano (John Magaro). He forms aband in high school and we see him go from that to another band after high school. He is alienated from his family and the decade changes faster than him.
Not Fade Away makes good use of props of the era to show the passing of time in a fluid manner. Writer/director David Chase makes everything seem authentic, down to the smallest detail. The movie values the pop and rock of the era and it shows with its wonderful soundtrack.
Doug’s father (James Gandolfini) doesn’t want the rock and roll lifestyle for his son. He likes to watch the rerun of South Pacific than anything he sees or hears in his suburban middleclass Jersey home. James Gandolfini is perfect for the part. Not Fade Away is narrated by Doug’s younger sister Evelyn (Meg Guzulescu).
When Doug courts Grace (Bella Heathcote), he tries to be Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, a member of the Kink, and himself. His band is struggling and this gives the movie its dramatic tone.
The Doug character is hard to understand yet it is engaging. Magaro played it the way Chase wrote the role. It it’s the perfect contrast to the details of Not Fade Away as it brings back memories for people from that era.
Not Fade Away is rated R for pervasive language, some drug use and sexual content. It is David Chase’s first major work after ending The Sopranos. It is a coming-of-age movie where the main character loses his innocence, finds his own voice, and nothing stays the same.