I love the Rolling Stones and have since I was 14 and bought their album "Hot Rocks" on my own at the mall, so that alone was enough to get me excited about seeing this movie. Another draw was that "Rolling Stone" magazine called it "a love story to rock and roll."
The movie has a very limited release so I had to drive to Southpoint Mall in Durham to see it. It reminds me of the time when "Somewhere" by Sophia Coppola came out and it just never came to North Carolina at all and it seemed like torture. I really didn't want that to happen again and so... road trip!
It was worth the drive. I honestly don't know if everyone would like it. Some might say it is "slow" but that's what I like about it. The first scene is a black and white reenactment of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards meeting for the first time on a train and talking about American blues records! It's great stuff for a Stones fan.
The movie has a great soundtrack that Steven Van Zandt from the E Street Band/ The Sopranos/ The Underground Garage put together. Strangely, it doesn't include the song "Not Fade Away" though. Some of my favorite scenes are just seeing the band play a song from beginning to end which happens at a practice, at a house party, at an audition.
David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos," directed. This movie is his first feature film. He is 68.
The main character Douglas, played by John Magaro, is amazing to watch. It couldn't be just cuz he captures "Bob Dylan" hair perfectly which he does. He had a smaller part in the indie film "Liberal Arts" as a depressed student who reads "Infinite Jest" in coffee shops. He played a character you definitely root for, and in my case, even more so than the principal characters.
James Gandolfini as his dad has this line he keeps telling his son: "If you don't.....we're going to tangle, my friend," which I loved. The father-son relationship is probably the most touching of all which goes beyond the father's disapproval and tough exterior.
Bella Heathcote as the love interest, Grace, is beautiful and very much looks like a sixties' model like Jean Shrimpton or Twiggy with the long thin hair and bangs and kohl eyes. Since the movie is from Douglas's point of view, we don't really know what's in her heart and the director keeps it ambiguous. She gives this great line to Douglas before they get together, a Stones reference, "Time is on your side."
A side story occurs with Grace's sister. It adds some "color" to the story and that's sort of a pun because she is a painter. It adds some pain. I'm not sure it's really needed except it brings Grace and Douglas back together after a fight and it shows the dark side of the sixties a bit.
I'm not too crazy about the other band members. Maybe you aren't supposed to like them because you're rooting for the main character. But I liked the band members in say "Almost Famous" a lot more. This movie is different than "Almost Famous" (another nostalgic rock film) which comes at rock from a journalist's perspective following a successful band whereas the main character here is in a garage-type band and has to write songs and is a bit older.
The ending is ambiguous, apparently much like the ending of "The Sopranos," and it is a bit artsy weird but I like it. It's strange that Douglas's younger sister narrates/ bookends the movie but is not really in the embedded story very much. It makes what happens more of a legend/myth because she idolizes Douglas a bit.
So Douglas may not make it as big as the Stones, but he keeps the rock n' roll dream alive and this movie celebrates that.