Oh, what a lovely film. I was almost hugging myself while I watched it….Almost Famous is about the world of rock, but it’s not a rock film, it’s a coming-of-age film, about an idealistic kid who sees the real world, witnesses its cruelties and heartbreaks, and yet finds much room for hope. The Penny Lane character is written with particular delicacy, as she tries to justify her existence and explain her values (in a milieu that seems to have none). It breaks William’s heart to see how the married Russell mistreats her. But Penny denies being hurt. Kate Hudson has one scene so well-acted, it takes her character to another level. William tells her, “He sold you to Humble Pie for 50 bucks and a case of beer.” Watch the silence, the brave smile, the tear and the precise spin she puts on the words, “What kind of beer?” It’s not an easy laugh. It’s a whole world of insight.
This review was one of the first things I thought of when I heard the news of Roger Ebert’s passing yesterday. Coming across years after it was originally written, I thought his phrasing so beautiful and his explanation so moving that I had to run out and find this movie, which tellingly is now my favorite film.
I was taken aback by how sad I felt yesterday for a man I had never met but the thing is, I love films and I owe so much of how I view film to Roger Ebert. Watching and reading his reviews opened up an entire new world of discussion on film — that simply watching the movie was not the end but that there was more to be analyzed, compared and theorized about. Before I thought if I do not enjoy a film, it has failed but he made me think about the nuances of film - of acting, of plot development, of editing, of musical scores but also of what a film (any film, even the most insipid) reflects about the human condition. I must say, for anyone who loves film - we lost a good one yesterday.