A chronicle of John Lennon's first years, focused mainly in his adolescence and his relationship with his stern aunt Mimi, who raised him, and his absentee mother Julia, who re-entered his life at a crucial moment in his young life.
The story of John Lennon's childhood and teenage years from 1944 to 1960, his relationship with his aunt Mimi and his mother Julia -the two dominant women in the first part of his life-, his first meeting with Paul McCartney and George Harrison, their friendship, their love for music and the birth of The Beatles. Written by
Why do you know so much?I mean you don't seem like the rock and roll kind of guy
What you mean because I don't go around smashing things up and
acting like a dick?
No.It's the music.That's it,just music.Simple
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Movin' N' Groovin'
Written by Duane Eddy, Lee Hazlewood
Published (c) 1959 (Renewed)
UniChappell Music Inc. (BMI)
Licensed courtesy of Warner Chappell Music Publishing Limited
Performed by The Nowhere Boys See more »
Let's face it, John Lennon is interesting because he was a member of and a major songwriter for the Beatles. Most of his interesting non-musical experiences happened as a consequence of his Beatles membership. For some reason this film decides that all of that is less important and interesting than his relationship with his aunt and mother during his late teens. The founding of the Quarrymen and Beatles is just a minor subplot. We don't even get to their Hamburg experiences.
Instead what we get is a humdrum kitchen sink soapie that leaves you wanting less. Its main dramatic focus is the belated revelation of how John Lennon's stern aunt became his guardian even though his more attitudinally compatible mother lived around the corner. This is all explained in one scene, having been previously hinted at a few times in dream sequences. The rest of this overlong film is mainly padded out with tedious scenes of banal domesticity portraying John's rebelliousness, his mother's immaturity and flightiness, and his prim aunt's strictness. There's a bit of teenage truancy, mild sexual encounters and what passed for teenage hijinks in the 1950's, again quite dull. There are a few scenes hinting at his burgeoning interest in rock and roll and growing musical skill, but this is portrayed in an uninteresting manner and is mainly towards the end. If banal kitchen sink soapies are for you then you might like this movie, but it has little to do with John Lennon the musical icon. It is almost false advertising to use his name.
There were some interesting aspects of Lennon's life during this time, such as his art school experiences, his manipulative pursuit of Cynthia, his compulsive mocking of the physically flawed and the early struggles to get gigs. However all this is left out of the film. I suspect many of this film's flaws come from the film being based on a single memoir by one person who knew only one aspect of the subject's life. This is a common flaw with celebrity memoirs and biopics, but it's an especially major flaw when the memoir deals one of the least interesting aspects of one of the least interesting periods in his life.
As for the implementation aspects of a flawed concept, the film has an overall slightly cheap low budget look, although the acting is adequate. It's a little jarring though that they use a handsome actor to play Lennon and an ugly actor to play McCartney. Kristin Scott-Thomas is surprisingly convincing despite playing against type in an unglamorous role.
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