Review by Richard Brody
Earlier this year, David Chase’s much anticipated cinematic directorial debut came and left Nippertown movie theaters so quickly that it lent more than a little irony to its title, “Not Fade Away.” The film that cost $20 million to make grossed a little more than half a million on its initial theatrical run. How did this happen? The absence of both special effects and continuous high-speed action probably played a role. Some might have stayed away because they assumed that it was just “another boomer movie,” and we have been there and done that. There are those who felt that Chase used so many cultural/historical events to both mark the passage of time and provide context that the story became too diffuse. And then there was the publicity – wait, was there any?
Let me tell you why I really liked this movie: it felt real. The characters were not always likeable, but the words they spoke, their emotional resonance and behavior never rang false. Life is messy. It is not linear, and we frequently don’t grasp how the pieces fit together. And another reason is the music. In addition to some of the predictable selections, there are songs by Lead Belly, Robert Johnson and Elmore James, plus any soundtrack that has Tracy Nelson singing “Down So Low” is a winner for me.