Cameron Crowe was a name that was imprinted in my physci as a teenager when i first saw the movie ‘Jerry Maguire’, which i got hooked on to not just because Tom Cruise looked fantastic in it but more so because it showed what conviction of mind can achieve. And also the line ‘you complete me’ was the most romantic shit i had come across in my life till then. And while it remains a strong memory from my adolescence, it is another of Crowe’s movie which i am more attached to now, as an adult. Almost Famous, which was released in 2001, is a piece which has everything that ‘Jerry Maguire’ had but it feels more real because the world is not seen though the eyes of a 35 year old man who is starting afresh but a15 year old boy who is starting out in the world with passion people forget they ever had.
As is a common with Crowe, the movie shows a dysfunctional family of three. Elaine (Frances McDormand) plays an overprotective, obnoxious mother who squirms at the sight of rock music and capitalism and in her unflinching effort to bring up her children her way drives away her daughter Anita (Zooey Deschanel) when her son William (Patrick Fugit) is 11. Abnormally young for his class, William is not as rebellious as his sister but grows up on Rock music albums left behind by his sister. At 15, wanting to become a Rock journalist he approaches Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) a professional rock journalist, who tells him the ups and down of this job and everything it brings along including drugs, chicks and fake friends but sympathetic towards his ambition asks him to write a piece on ‘Black Sabbath’. While trying to get into a ‘Black Sabbath’ concert he meets semi-groupies called Band-Aides led by Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and a new band Stillwater which includes Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) and Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee) among others. The rest of the movie is about the journey of William with Stillwater on their tour and his relationship with them and Penny.
Some of the most hilarious moments in the movie are derived from the protective attitude of Elaine towards William and her fear that he would fall for drugs and sex due to his love for Rock music. William on the other hand is a vulnerable and highly passionate boy who is thrown into circumstances much beyond his age. Surrounded by promiscuous young girls, free flowing booze and of course drugs he constantly struggles for a single straightforward interview with the band members, which is all he wanted. And everything he has to go through to finally get that even while spending days with them.
For me, the movie is lovely dedication to the vulnerability of youth and the rock music era. But more than the glamour behind the rock bands, it is the intense emotional quotient between the various characters that remain the heart and soul of the movie. The fear of a mother while trying to be open minded, a fearless and pure heart finding his way in this world and the rather common concept of falling in love.
A engaging watch.