Cameron Crowe has had a pretty cool life. Hes been a journalist doing interviews with some of the biggest stars in the world, hes written films, and has directed some great stars as well. Hes married to a rock star in Hearts Nancy Wilson. What else could I say to prove how cool this guys life has been? Nothing, except that hes added a great film to an already overloaded belt with Almost Famous. It doesn’t have some over the top character that steals the show like Fast Times At Ridgemont Highs Jeff Spicoli, or a line that ends up being the mark for a year like Jerry McGuires “Show me the money.” No, Almost Famous is something different. Its spark lies deeply entrenched in the many sequences between the story that must be written.
Almost Famous is a semi-autobiography about the life of Cameron Crowe as William Miller, who at the age of fifteen was interviewing the likes of Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton for Rolling Stone in a time when music was real, not commercialized for the sake of being commercialized. This film takes us on the journey of his first writing gig as he traveled the States with Stillwater, an up-and-coming band in the early 70s. The time spent with the band finds this fifteen-year-old learning a lot about himself, all the while escaping an overprotective mother, only to follow his heart which finds itself being pulled in every direction.
Stillwater as a band is only a platform from which a true love story is able to break free. While chasing Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), the leader of the band, he finds himself competing not only for the truth in his story, but also to steal away the one thing Russell seems less interested in, a groupie named Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). This love triangle seems so beautiful and innocent, yet so powerful, never overlooked or downplayed. And though it tries to cast itself aside in order for William to get his work done, its too powerful to play second fiddle to the place his heart needs to be.
The undercurrents add spice to a movie that was already well flavored. Almost Famous doesn’t rely on one liners to zing us. Even though it has some fun moments or some really sappy moments to tug at our heart strings, it relies on a story topped with emotions that run the gamut. One moment you may wear a frown, but the next your smile emerges ear to ear. Nothing is gimmicky, nothing distracts you from the screen. Its the kind of film that isnt made enough these days, the kind that digs deep to find soul and opens up the human heart just to see how far that can take you. All the while you have hope for William, just like you were there and able to make a difference. And as you leave, you feel inspired. You have faith. You understand that differences can start with the simplest of things and the most average of people. That is what a real movie should do. It should prove that the average and uncool arent all that bad. Sometimes being cool isnt all its cracked up to be, and being almost famous can be just as gratifying as being so.
+ charlie craine