Sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This is what Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous is about, although it’s mostly rock & roll. If you enjoy music, particularly classic rock bands such as Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones, Dylan, Hendrix, and plenty of others, I can near guarantee that you will fall in love with this film.
Also, I can near guarantee that you will fall in love with Kate Hudson, playing Penny Lane, or Lady Goodman. Aside from the fact that she is absolutely gorgeous, Hudson portrays one of the single coolest females of all time in her character. She is a die-hard rock lover, and a simply down to Earth, kind and generous person. Undoubtedly wife material. While the acting in this film is not necessarily something that jumps out at you, Hudson turns in a really enjoyable and fun performance that helps establish a strong emotional connection to her character.
And while I do maintain that the acting in this film is not an aspect of it that makes it one of my most beloved, one performance does stand out as truly great. Despite have a minor role in the film, Philip Seymour Hoffman brings his A-game. Portraying renowned rock critic Lester Bangs, Hoffman steals each and every scene that he is in. His first moments in the film, for instance, are some of the best moments in the entire movie. Ripping through the local San Diego rock radio station’s record collection, including both Jethro Tull and The Doors, Lester searches for Velvet Underground’s White Heat/White Lightning and Iggy Pop’s Raw Power. It is the latter that he forcibly jams out to at what we can estimate is approximately 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning on the radio. One word. Stud.
Lester also plays the role of mentor to the protagonist, William Miller (Patrick Fugit), who is more or less meant to be Cameron Crowe himself. An aspiring rock journalist, William excitedly allows himself to be taken under Lester’s wing. Lester reminds him of the importance of journalism; William must not be blinded by the false kindness that any of the band members show him, instead he must be truthful and unmerciful. He must keep the musicians honest.
The Almost Famous soundtrack is really like a rock & roll greatest hits album more than a soundtrack to a film. We have got “That’s the Way” by Zep, both “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and “Tiny Dancer” from Sir Elton John, “Simple Man” performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the list goes on and on and on. However, not only does the soundtrack contain a multitude of mesmerizing melodies, but each one is carefully selected and appropriate for the moment in which they are played. To support this claim, I turn to the scene in which “Tiny Dancer” is played. With all the members of the band and their girlfriends and several others all tensed up and displeased with each other, they reconcile, joining in singing the lyrics to Elton John’s timeless classic.
I will not try to pretend that this factor does not play a substantial role in while I love this film. It certainly does. I cannot say that I find the acting to tremendous on the whole, nor can I say that I particularly admired the directing, although I have no quarrels with it either. The same goes for the cinematography. The writing I do enjoy quite a bit; certain lines hit hard, others make you laugh out loud. When it comes down to it though, my love for this film is simply due to the just incredible soundtrack and the performances of both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kate Hudson. I love how the film so well connects with the idea that music can make you feel ways that nothing else in the whole world can. In the words of Bob Marley, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”