Review: Almost Famous (2000)

Much more than feels and flares.

This moment (which I think was only inserted after the theatrical release?) is miraculous to me. I imagine it wouldn’t even happen without a director who not only  really adores their performer, but who fights hard to shoot it – the cost, the time, to assemble the crew and dress the set for a scene that technically doesn’t push the narrative forward, but is absolutely a character moment:

It’s a microcosm of the way Almost Famous works: a film about a feeling. The art direction, the soundtrack, the direction, and of course the character moments, are informed by, and conspire to create, a particular brand of nostalgia – not even necessarily for the era, or for this particularly personal world (it’s semi-autobiographical), so much as a stage of life, of innocence, and of love (for things, for music, as much as for people).

And in my personal story, too, this movie has its own special place. Watching it with my mum, she took Frances MacDormand‘s wonderful mother character as her own personal totem, and “Don’t do drugs!” became the thing to call out to me every time I left the house ever since (even as a man who had already moved out, and had just stopped by for a visit). It represented in her house, in our relationship, a touchstone for that same feeling, of time, of place, of life, that only certain films manage.

Further reading

The trivia about this movie is great. Back when I first saw it, I went digging to uncover the real-life inspirations for the characters. Those answers, along with a bunch of other revelations and curiosities, are out there: