NYFF Daily Reviews: David Chase’s Not Fade Away


Today, our Nick Schager rocks out with the Fest’s centerpiece movie, David Chase’s highly anticipated debut film Not Fade Away. It hits theaters this December.

Not Fade Away
Directed by David Chase
Screens Saturday, October 6

Rock-and-roll proves the coming-of-age crucible for a young teen in 1960s New Jersey in Not Fade Away, Sopranos creator David Chase’s semi-autobiographical feature debut of shaggy hair, shagadelic beauties, and the joy and sorrow wrought from chasing, and failing to achieve, one’s dreams.

A golf course ditch-digger with drumming aspirations, Douglas (John Magaro) sets his sights first on being Charlie Watts and then, spurred on by long-coveted schoolmate Grace (Bella Heathcote), Mick Jagger. That goal rankles his working-class father Pat (James Gandolfini), winds up complicated by internal band strife, and is set amidst cultural and social upheaval (paralleled with the upside-down universe of The Twilight Zone) that leaves everyone – adult and kid alike – battered and bruised.

Scored by Steven Van Zandt, Chase’s musical sequences have a deft attention to emotional rhythms that’s also true of his overall direction, which subtly intertwines guitar riffs and heated passions while suggesting confusion, elation ,and turmoil through graceful camerawork. Pop-cultural shout-outs are innumerable, but Chase’s nostalgia is never of an infomercial variety. Rather, he steeps Douglas’ story in a wistfulness that recognizes the era’s absurdity and nastiness.

With a subplot about Grace’s out-of-control sister (Dominique McElligott) being committed for her “beatnik” rebelliousness , Chase reveals the way in which generational clashes, and the tragedy they sometimes wrought, were born from a joint fear and confusion over shifting tides no one quite understood how to handle.

Not Fade Away treats its characters with just the right balance of gravity and sense of humor, respecting their earnest sincerity and yet pricking them for their prejudices and pretensions, a tonal balancing act that, concluding misstep aside, turns the material reflective without being cloying. That’s never more apparent, or affecting, than in a quiet dinner shared between father and son that, in Pat’s revelations about past romances, beautifully conveys the material’s simultaneously sad and hopeful – and, thus, mature – belief that, for better and worse, some loves must be lost so that others may be found. (Nick Schager)