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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 14:26 GMT
Director Crowe's Famous venture
Almost Famous
Crowe's Almost Famous is a semi-autobiographical piece
By BBC News Online's entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

The London Film Festival opens with the much-anticipated international premiere of Cameron Crowe's new movie Almost Famous.

Its promoters say this picture from Dreamworks is the next American Beauty.

Like that film - launched in Toronto - it could bring the studio critical kudos and possible Oscar glory.

Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson is one of the talented newcomers

Almost Famous is a partly autobiographical coming-of-age tale for Crowe.

It chronicles the teenage exploits of a rock journalist working for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s.

Although the film focuses on the young journalist, nearly all the principal characters in Almost Famous have to reassess their lives.

Jerry Maguire director Crowe explained: "I love the period of time in someone's life where they re-evaluate and learn something new and have those private moments where the world tilts a little bit."

Compromise

Other than Frances McDormand, Anna Paquin and Billy Crudup, the rest of the Almost Famous cast - including the central role of the 15-year-old journalist - is made up of relative unknowns.

However, nearly all are exceptionally talented.

It is hard to predict how Crowe's film will fare commercially because of the lack of star names.

Fargo star Frances McDormand
Fargo star Frances McDormand is one of the film's few well-known names

The fact that it is set in the dated world of 1970s rock may also lessen its box office appeal.

But the picture does contain some powerful acting, from McDormand, and Patrick Fuget who plays the young journalist.

My own view is that it's an admirable film, but contrary to Dreamworks' hype this is no American Beauty.

I felt that, artistically, Crowe compromised what could have been a very strong work by creating a feel-good ending that significantly undermines the overall story.

With around 200 films set to unspool between now and 16 November, both the public and industry delegates will have their work cut out for them.

Billy Crudup
Jesus' Son star Billy Crudup also features

But if the festival fulfils its customary role, by the last day a handful of fortunate films will have emerged with most people's seal of approval.

Crowe's Almost Famous should be among the privileged few.

Almost Famous goes on release across the UK in the New Year.

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Almost Famous
Watch the movie trailer
See also:

07 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Toronto's anniversary high
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