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Soundtrack proves more effective storyteller in ‘Not Fade Away’

By Charles Louis Dominguez ’14

5.5 out of 10

With the exception of the jazz themes from Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One,” I have never enjoyed a movie soundtrack.

While I’ve never doubted the importance of music in helping to set the tone of a film, it’s very rare that a song selection or score has the same impact when taken away from the visuals.

“Not Fade Away,” a film written and directed by David Chase, presents a very interesting new dilemma in which the music seems to tell the story more effectively than the dialogue.

Throughout the movie, we follow protagonist Douglas, a skinny teenager in the 1960s who has an affinity for rock music.

In order to impress Grace, a popular high school girl, Douglas acquires a drum set and begins to practice.

Soon afterwards, Douglas assumes the position as drummer in his friend’s unnamed band.

After a bumbling and relatively unnoted leap in time, we find that Douglas is now a college student who –to the dismay of his father– possesses liberal beliefs as well as the wardrobe of a young Bob Dylan.

His band gains popularity within their community, circulating through parties and other social events.

Of course, tensions develop within the band and the rest of the film focuses on how these problems affect Doulas’ relationships with friends and family.

To be frank, it ends up playing out more like an episode of “Behind the Music” for every unnamed, somewhat successful garage band.

As mentioned before, there is one redeeming facet to this otherwise unoriginal and boring narrative: the music.

Set to some memorable tunes from the 1960s, “Not Fade Away” seems to have an appropriate track for every situation it presents.

It successfully inspires nostalgia for an era that most of us never experienced.

I just can’t help but wish the music selection was paired with a better film.

In addition to having a plot I find boring and unoriginal, the way the story is presented is just confusing and awkward.

It was convoluted in the most unnecessary ways, telling a very basic story in a manner that somehow made it confusing.

For example, the main character wasn’t obviously identified as “Douglas” until three-quarters through the film.

With this fact ignored for much of the movie, the audience is left identifying their main character as “young Bob Dylan guy.”

The music ended up making the film bearable.

Douglas’ life progresses with the tunes of the times, making a more cohesive movie than the dialogue alone would allow.

As a whole product, it was okay, but it’s a better film to dance to than to watch.

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