Nowhere Boy (2010)

Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood
Written by Matt Greenhalgh

Nowhere Boy is the childhood story of one John Lennon. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Yea, he is one of the best songwriters, and characters, of the past century. Best known as a Beatle along with Paul, George and Ringo, John Lennon had a troubled, interesting childhood. His family life was a roller coaster and he just so happened to be the right age, at the right time, for rock & roll. Music became an outlet, a dream, and eventually a reality for John as he became a legend.

For the most part, the film is the story of John’s relationships with his Aunt Mimi, who raised him, and his mother Julia, whose place in John’s life is complicated. Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) plays John and does a good job of capturing that teen angst we all know about. But what makes this film different is the circumstances. No boy should have such family problems and maybe that explains a lot about his behavior as a young boy. I have to assume much of it is dramatized, but nevertheless, the film is a biopic and taught me a lot about John Lennon I did not know. It did its job and I respect the man even more now because of what he had to go through.

The three central performances are very good: Aaron Johnson as John, Ann-Marie Duff as Julia and Kristin Scott Thomas as Mimi. But the best of these is Thomas. I am, admittedly, a fan of her work, I think she is fantastic, but her portrayal of Mimi is heartbreaking to watch, especially as the story slowly progresses. The film begins slowish and builds and builds until we are presented with a scene filled with fireworks. The wait is worth it. Though the beginning part of the film is slow, it is packed with information that will make this pay-off worth it.

The film is not something that wowed me, yet it was quietly effective and affecting. Despite my best efforts, given some of his rebellious and selfish behavior, I couldn’t help but feel for John in his situation. I even neared tears on more than one occasion. We witness the fall of John’s childhood and the rise of is music legend. I would be interested to see a film about him late in life now as well. But give Aaron Johnson about twenty years before you make that film.

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