Taking place in the 1960s amidst the Assassination of John F Kennedy, David Chase's Not Fade Away tells the story of Douglas, an independent teenager, who becomes determined to start a Rock band. Growing up in a stern and conservative household Doug doesn't share the same sentiment as his parents on many social issues, leading him to become a free spirit, forming a Rock band with his friends in the hopes of making it big. David Chase's Not Fade Away is a coming of age story driven by the power of music. Probably the greatest aspect of Not Fade Away is its ability to capture the time period in significant detail. The film touches on lots of issues like Vietnam, the sexual revolution, and civil rights, doing so in both grand and subtle ways. Douglas firmly represents the changing youth culture, with the expanding gap between the older and younger generation when it comes to social issues being explored through his relationship with his ultra-conservative parents. Thematically the film is all about finding oneself and never giving up in the pursuit of that dream. While Not Fade Away achieves this through Doug's character journey, I never felt very much attachment to the character. I can't be entirely sure whether it was simply the way the character was written or John Magaro's performance but Douglas was far too one-note and bland for me as a central protagonist. At times he feels more like a caricature of youth culture in the 60s than a living, breathing human being which left me at a distance from really embracing the film on an emotional level. David Chase's Not Fade Away does a fantastic job at capturing the setting of the 1960s but unfortunately the main protagonist is too one-note for the film to become something truly special.
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