Evan Eaton’s review published on Letterboxd:
Oh. My. Fuck. What a masterpiece!
For any avid music fan (music meaning the unmatched sounds of the mid-60s to mid-70s), Almost Famous is probably the most essential of any coked-out, contemporary period piece, a straight ticket to laughing your ass off and balling your eyes out simultaneously. Going beyond the realm of cinema and wandering into the territory of experiences, this is a cosmic clash of both teenage fantasy and parental angst, guaranteed to have your hairs standing on end by the time it reaches its intoxicating encore. For me, someone who was born in 96, it still somehow drenched me in a tangible nostalgia, with a killer soundtrack so indescribably cool that if you don’t recognise at least 5 songs you need to get off this app and go do some homework.
One thing is for sure, any die-hard PTA fan should watch this immediately. Considering he tends to be a director I find pretty much inimitable, Crowe works miracles in examining the style of his earlier works such as Magnolia or Boogie Nights, imbuing it with his own personal touch and giving us what’s arguably the closest to PTA’s ensemble wizardry I’ve seen to this day. You can feel the authenticity in Crowe’s real-life experiences, his time as a 15 year-old journalist for Rolling Stone embedded in the details, enforcing the sense of reality despite the surreal tangents of the journey. It shows incredible restraint that we’re placed into an environment in which famed musicians like Bowie or Dylan are always lingering around the corner, and yet it never cashes out on emulating their characters, focusing only on the smaller people; the uncool, the groupies and the band-aids.
Music talks louder than words, that’s the motto here. The opening sequence set to Simon & Garfunkel’s America couldn’t be more perfect, articulating the desperation in the American youth of the era through a symphony of sound and images, and the liberating hope in their readiness to do anything in order to abandon the overwrought religious/republican views of their parents. This film is a tribute to the people who influenced the apathetic lives of the oppressed, unwittingly or not. It’s for The Beach Boys, for Joni Mitchell, for Elton John and Jimi Hendrix. These are the legends that defined not just the music of the time, but a political stance which posed the most significant threat to an inherently racist, homophobic America. This revolution had the power to save lives as much as it had the power to destroy them. In the case of Almost Famous, Crowe proves that very fact, equally bitter as it is sweet, depicting an entire culture through the tragedy and eventual epiphany of Penny Lane. Needle-drops just don’t get better than this.
“One day, you’ll be cool. Look under your bed. It will set you free.”