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72 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

Careful he might hear you.....

Author: ptb-8 from Australia
30 December 2009

Upon reading other comments, this film clearly polarizes viewers. I suggest you read the comment by someone called Phantom Fan who sums up a lot of the story and emotional content quite well in my opinion. As a result I need not repeat. I am old enough to remember the Beatles in their climb to fame, but this film is not about that. The film is about John Lennon at 15. This seems to annoy some viewers. If a person reads the ads and sees the trailer: it clearly says JOHN LENNON AT 15. So whining about the film not being about John Lennon at 25 and not being about The Beatles seems as though someone did not pay attention to the film's advertising information. What we do have however is a superb production set in the mid 1950s as rock n roll grabbed teens and John Lennon (aged 15) realized some emotional hard truths about his family and himself. It just these key emotional Lennon family earthquakes that is the story of this film. Not 'How The Beatles met". The tug of love between two brittle sisters and the increasingly shocked and troubled Lennon let us glimpse the deep ruptures in his romantic psyche that saw his scorching opinions and acidic wit build. This is a great film, the art direction and set design allow the viewer to feel as though they are there in those rooms on those days. Aaron Johnson is possibly too handsome for John and is photographed to boost his genuine beauty; the photography and the direction are terrific. Interesting for Australian cinema goers is that we are fortunate to have had two award winning films previously about similar family backgrounds: CAREFUL HE MIGHT HEAR YOU from 1983 written as a memoir by Sumner Locke Elliott about his life at 6 years old being bounced between two warring aunts and an absent father is almost identical family (flashbacks) background to NOWHERE BOY. Also Eric Bana's 2008 film with Kobi Smit McPhee called ROMULUS MY FATHER is almost a flip-side between a Dad trying to save his son from an unstable mother and her lovers. So perhaps we in Oz are better more willing to applaud NOWHERE BOY on this basis. I found every part of this film compelling and thought Johnson great casting for young Lennon. The two sisters and their unraveling personal issues from their fraught past made excellent drama. I went with it all and I suggest you do too. But be prepared to let it inform you rather than you demand 'a Beatles movie'. My only niggle is the fey depiction of a 15 year old cherubic sissy styled Paul McCartney. NOWHERE BOY went somewhere for me.

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54 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

Knows not where he's going to

Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
21 January 2010

Period drama has long been a forte of the British cinema; prior to this one there had already been at least three excellent examples from 2009; "Young Victoria", "Dorian Grey" and "An Education". Traditional British costume drama has concentrated on the Victorian era and early twentieth century (roughly speaking 1837-1945), but Nowhere Boy, like "An Education", is set at a rather later period, in this case the late fifties.

The film is about the adolescence of John Lennon, while he was at school and art college in Liverpool. Unlike his three fellow Beatles, who were all from working-class backgrounds, Lennon grew up in middle-class suburbia with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George, who had raised him since he was five. He was the son of Mimi's younger sister Julia by her husband Alf Lennon (referred to in the film as "Fred"), but the marriage was not a success, and after Julia began a relationship with another man, Mimi took care of the youngster, then five years old. Julia did not reappear in Lennon's life until his teenage years when a cousin informed him that, contrary to what he had previously thought, she was still living in Liverpool, only a short walk from his home.

The film focuses on the influence these two very different women had on Lennon's early life. Although they were sisters, they had wildly contrasting personalities. Julia was a bohemian extrovert, liberal in her social views and keen to foster her son's musical and artistic talents. Mimi (actually christened Mary Elizabeth) may have shared a nickname with the heroine of "La Boheme", but there was nothing bohemian about her. She was a strict disciplinarian who initially had little sympathy with John's musical aspirations and insisted that he get a "proper job", although eventually she gave in and agreed to buy him a guitar.

The film also charts Lennon's musical development, including his first meetings with Paul McCartney and George Harrison (Ringo, of course, did not come onto the scene until a few years later) and the birth of The Quarrymen, the band which was later to become The Beatles. There is a vivid picture of the British music scene in the late fifties, a time when trad jazz and rock-and-roll seemed to be competing to become the music of the future. There was also a curious British musical form, skiffle (actually a revival of an earlier American variety of jazz) which was influential at the time; The Quarrymen started out as a skiffle band.

The film also captures the look of the period; although the late fifties were a time of increasing material prosperity, there was much about British life which had a drab feel about it, especially the clothes and the interior decoration schemes. There is a contrast brought out between Mimi's house, decorated in various shades of brown and cream, and the brighter colours of Julia's which look forward to the more garish tastes that were to predominate in the sixties. (I remember growing up in a house where the living-room combined dark green wallpaper with a bright orange carpet- hideous today, but unexceptional at the time).

It was not so long ago that Kristin Scott Thomas was playing romantic heroines in films like "The English Patient"; today, casting directors seem to see her as a middle-aged battleaxe in roles like Veronica Whittaker in "Easy Virtue". Aunt Mimi at first seems like the bourgeois equivalent of the aristocratic Veronica, although she later shows that there is a gentler, more caring, side to her nature. (If Veronica Whittaker ever had a gentler side she kept it well-hidden, even from herself). Scott Thomas is even better here than she was in "Easy Virtue", because the role she is playing is more complex. Anne-Marie Duff is also very good as Julia and Aaron Johnson as Lennon seems like a young star in the making. Johnson is perhaps rather more handsome than Lennon was in real life, but he is able to convey a real sense of what he must have been like, in part a rebellious tearaway whose idea of fun is going for a ride on the roof of a bus, part emotionally vulnerable youngster torn between loyalty to his carefree, fun-loving mother and to his aunt, the woman who had cared for him since he was very young. The title "Nowhere Boy" is not just a play on the title of one of Lennon's best-known songs; it is also indicative of John's state of mind as he tries to reconcile these two influences on his life. Like his "Nowhere Man", he "Knows not where he's going to".

The film's main appeal will probably be to those with an interest in The Beatles, although in my view it can also be seen as a moving coming-of-age drama which can be enjoyed by those who can't tell Lennon and McCartney from Rodgers and Hammerstein or from Gilbert and Sullivan. It contains not only some great music but also some great acting. This was director Sam Taylor-Wood's first feature film but it is a debut of which she (that's Sam as in Samantha, not as in Samuel) can be proud. 8/10

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68 out of 96 people found the following review useful:

There Is Nowhere Else You Should Be On Boxing Day

Author: phantom_fan89 from Australia
21 December 2009

Visual artist Sam Taylor Wood has crafted the most entertaining and thought provoking piece of Lennon mythology to date in her debut feature film Nowhere Boy.

The movie chronicles the adolescent years of John Lennon. Having been brought up by his Aunt Mimi, John's world is turned upside when his free spirited mother Julia re-enters his life, ripping him open and pulling out his artistry as well as pain, anger and frustration.

A number of films and documentaries have tried and failed to make a definitive statement about John Lennon the human being. The reason why Nowhere Boy is so successful is because we are presented with a complex and multi faceted young man, who was a number of things to a number of people and impossible to pigeonhole.

Based on the novel by John's sister Julia Baird with the script penned by Matt Greenhalgh, Nowhere Boy possesses an enormously strong emotional undercurrent that is missing from many films of the biopic genre. The Lennon legend has risen to almost unparalleled mythical heights within our culture and Greenhalgh does a superb job at humanising the story, so much that you forget that you are watching a film about a legend in the making, but rather the story of a young boy caught between the women he loves.

The women in question are John's Aunt Mimi played by the ever brilliant Kristen Scott Thomas and his mother Julia, brought to life in a star making turn by Anne-Marie Duff. Though much of the acclaim seems to be percolating around Duff's performance, Scott Thomas deserves to be equally praised for making the incredibly complex character of Mimi relatable and sympathetic. In the wrong hands Aunt Mimi could have come across as highly unlikeable considering she can often appear distant and cold, but Scott Thomas juxtaposes these instances with such an understated kindness and warmth that we as the audience realise that Mimi is a very caring person who has the misfortune of finding it almost impossible to express sentimental feelings. On the other end of the spectrum Julia appears to be everything Mimi isn't- a free spirit who flouts convention and lives for a good time. Julia is a flirt. She flirts with life, men and even her own son. There is a rather incestuous undercurrent to her and John's relationship such as when she lays on top of him, lost in ecstasy to the tune "I Put A Spell On You". The scene is uncomfortable, as is many aspects of their relationship. In many ways she seems more like a girlfriend to John and as the movie progresses we begin to understand more and more Mimi's misgivings. In many ways Julia has never really grown up and only knows how to engage with men in this seductive manner.

John Lennon is played by relative unknown Aaron Johnson, mainly associated with his role in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. Johnson breaks free from the shackles of his teen pin-up persona and delivers a mature and layered performance worthy of accolades. Johnson fully embodies Lennon's complexities; he is both good and bad, insecure and arrogant, sensitive and brutal, caring and careless. From Lennon's wit to his magnetism, pain, anger and sarcasm, Johnson gets it all. Considering Lennon is one of the most imitated celebrities of our time Johnson does well to avoid caricature, creating a version of Lennon at his most human. Johnson's vocal abilities also sound eerily reminiscent of a young Lennon, making him an excellent choice in more ways than one.

Taylor Wood is definitely a talent to watch as she not only elicits fine performances from her cast but also manages to capture the essence of post war Liverpool in a vivid and imaginative way. Gone are the bleak greys, squalid mean streets and endless rows of two up two down houses that usually characterises the depictions of the area. Instead we are presented with a much more colorful and vibrant depiction of Liverpool, a City just beginning to discover the charms of rock and roll. The excitement in the air is palpable.

One of the greatest attributes of Nowhere Boy is the soundtrack, crammed with classics from Elvis Presley, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Eddie Cochran. Coupled with these original rock songs are covers sung by Aaron Johnson and Thomas Sangstar as their respective characters.

Nowhere Boy is an absolute gem of a film that will hopefully find the audience it deserves. You'll laugh, cry and kick yourself for not learning guitar in your youth. Possibly the most touching film of the year, there is nowhere else you should be on Boxing Day. FOR MORE REVIEWS FEEL FREE TO VISIT

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43 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

The Boy Done Good!

Author: flickernatic from United Kingdom
30 December 2009

This biopic of John Lennon, taking his story from his schooldays in Liverpool up until the departure of the nascent Beatles for Hamburg, is an exceptional movie, quite the best I have seen during 2009. The story is beautifully handled from beginning to end and the acting from the three main leads is superb. Aaron Johnson manages to portray Lennon's mixture of cockiness (in more ways than one!), aggression, painful vulnerability, bewilderment and sheer adolescent verve with great sureness of touch. We watch Lennon developing from school-kid into knowing young man, and we literally see a different face at the end of the movie to the one we did at the start. Superb playing by Johnson, brilliantly assisted by that of Kristin Scott Thomas as his Aunt Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff as his mother, Julia. It would have been all too easy to lapse into cliché with this story but this is largely avoided. We get glimpses of Liverpool - an opening on the steps of St George's Hall, a fleeting glimpse of Strawberry Fields, a shot of a ferry on the Mersey - but these glimpses are all we need. And the movie closes not with a rendition of an all too predictable 'Nowhere Man' but a beautifully performed 'In Spite of All the Danger'. They say it's a long way to the top if you wanna rock n' roll; in Nowhere Boy we can see where it, and we, all began.

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34 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Unsentimental but still artful biopic of the early Lennon

Author: Framescourer from London, UK
27 December 2009

Sam Taylor-Wood's story of the adolescent John Lennon is an entertaining and occasionally touching film. I enjoyed it for the story of a young lad belligerently (and often fearfully) confronting the inevitable revelation of his past and constructing some sort of future. Taylor-Wood has consciously avoided any direct reference to the man that we all knew John Lennon would become, although there are implicit signposts placed in the visual narrative. Instead, his part in creating The Beatles assumed, the director concentrates on the (far from) simple facts of his coming of age, acquaintance with music and with real panache, the social climate in which this all came about.

The central narrative concerns the ying and yang relationships that John has with his aunt Mimi and rediscovered mother Julia. It is hard to imagine how these three parts would be better played than by you're-not- fooling-anyone-ice-queen Kristin Scott-Thomas and the effervescent life- force of Anne Marie Duff (respsectively). There's some fine screen acting going on here. Yet the tortured break with a prosaic, echt- English aunt and the intense, Oedipal love for a irresistible mother would be nothing without the right John - and where Aaron Johnson's been, I've no idea. His great ability is to trip off endless social anachronisms, turns of phrase that would seem un-PC, ill-advised or simply too cheeky today with a body language to suggest that he has no idea of the ramifications or combativeness of such an attitude. This is what makes the rock-n-roll, about to burst from the back of the screen (like the Third Reich in Haneke's White Ribbon) so palpable, so believable.

A good film, told, briskly and with rich nuance. 7/10

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

John Lennon as a young poetic rebel

Author: twilliams76 from Kansas City, MO, USA
9 July 2011

I guess this would be considered an "a moment-in-the-life-of-biopic" as it focuses on only a couple of years of pre-Beatles John Lennon's life in Liverpool, England (and not his entire life). It is an interesting story and one I did not know. It asks and answers the question: Where did Lennon get his start and love for music?

The film's subject matter -- the early life of John Lennon -- made Nowhere Boy an interesting story and sell for me; and since the acting in the movie happened to be stellar -- it was a bonus. Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) does a decent job as the 15-year-old Lennon and proves to be one to watch as he's going to have a long career although the real acting "glory" of the film belongs to the two lead females who are left to battle it out as Lennon's motherly figure(s). Kristin Scott Thomas (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient) plays his aunt who has raised John from early infant-hood as her sister was considered to be an unlikely parent/guardian. In the film, John stumbles upon his birth mother out of curiosity and becomes intrigued with her demeanor. Actress Anne-Marie Duff (Notes on a Scandal, The Last Station) is rather revelatory here (BOTH her and Scott Thomas deservingly earned 2010 BAFTA nominations for these very roles).

The story is sentimental and tragic and it is tied together quite nicely by the three lead players who all play off of each other very well and convincingly (Duff is flighty, Scott Thomas is concerned and Johnson is a free soul). The young Lennon becomes a mixture of the two women (a poetic rebel) and their influences are highly evident in the film and his later music.

Any Beatles fan should check this one out. It isn't full of Hey Jude's and Elinor Rigby's but this is Pre-Beatles (we do meet a young Paul) so we get a taste of the kid before he become our "Nowhere Boy".

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16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Goodbye, Goodbye

Author: jonnyhavey from United States
24 October 2010

Nowhere Boy is a film based the biography, Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon," written by his half sister Julia Baird. It tells the untold story of the late teenage years of one of the greatest musicians of all time, John Lennon and the strong influences his mother Julia Lennon (Anne-Marie Duff) and his aunt Mimi Smith (Kristin Scott Thomas) who created the foundation for his future as a person and the indelible mark he was about to leave on music forever. The film has created quite a racket throughout the UK since its release in December 2009 capturing four well deserved British Academy Film Award nominations including; Outstanding British Film, Best Supporting Actress Anne-Marie Duff and Kristen Scott Thomas and Outstanding Director Debut Sam Taylor Wood. These awards are the fire that the film is running off of for its debut in the United States this month.

Aaron Johnsons does a very good interpretation of his character John Lennon and reveals the mischievous antics of the teen aged John Lennon and the constant internal battle Lennon fought inside of himself to find out who he was. He is guided by the outstanding performances of Duff and Thomas as his guardians through his very rough childhood. Duff leads the cast with the best performance in the entire film by seamlessly embodying the character of John Lennon's mother Julia and has an American Oscar Nomination waiting for her in the upcoming months. These performances combined with the unique storytelling style of Director Wood and writer Matthew Greenhalgh with the help of Julia Baird's memoirs have created a film that is very different than a lot of films that focus on the lives of renown figures in history. They do this by focusing a narrow period of time allowing them to delve deep into the plot and story development giving the audience time to take in the entirety of the story, instead of stretching the film over a twenty plus year period of time.

The integrity that Wood and Greenhlgh produce with this style of filming allows the acting performances to flourish and creates the lost persona of the John Lennon, to be fully exemplified. I recommend seeing it now in order to be apart of the audience taken on the journey of Nowhere Boy. This journey of the "Nowhere Boy" himself is embodied by the lyric of the following song Mother from his debut solo album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, "Mother, you had me but I never had you. I wanted you, you didn't want me. So I just got to tell you goodbye, goodbye..."

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34 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

Crippled Inside

Author: Ali_Catterall from London, England
9 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pop, as quite a few musicologists have observed, is 'mom': a couple of three letter words with a deep symbiotic relationship. A relationship occasionally verging, as Nowhere Boy suggests, on the inappropriate. From Jim Morrison scandalously acting out the myth of Oedipus in 'The End', to Roger Waters plaintively asking his suffocating matriarch "Do you think she's good enough for me?" in Pink Floyd's The Wall, the history of 'mother love' among male singers is long.

John Lennon, a hierophant among pop's arch-confessors, certainly had his fair share of 'mother issues', as evinced by the White Album's 'Julia', a supremely moving and delicate tribute to his late mother, lyrically enmeshed with a love poem to Yoko Ono. Later, on his debut solo album, he'd give full vent to the peculiarly ambiguous relationship via a full-throated primal scream: "Mother, you had me, but I never had you."

That ambiguity lies at the heart of artist Sam Taylor-Wood's first full-length feature, the first Lennon biopic to brave a fuller excavation of one of pop's saddest back stories, and one of its most complicated psychologies; a man with a distinctly wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am attitude toward the fairer sex, but who'd also refer to Ono as 'Mother.'

As chronicled in the film, we see how the boy Lennon was raised by his aunt, Mary 'Mimi' Smith, who took him in after it was thought that her younger sister was incapable of looking after him properly. In his teens, which is when the film properly begins, he goes on to pinball between the two very different women, the stoic Mimi (a surprisingly well-cast Kristin Scott Thomas, transplanting that glorious sang-froid to Liverpool) and the flighty, possibly manic-depressive Julia (Anne Marie Duff, also excellent). Living just round the corner, and closer to her son's age, Julia buys him his first guitar, and introduces him to rock 'n' roll, before, tragically, she's knocked down and killed by an off-duty drunk-driving policeman when Lennon is 17.

In Matt (Control) Greenhalgh's screenplay, we first spot Julia lurking in the cemetery, during a funeral for John's Uncle George; she is already among the dead. And there is something truly doomed about her, a butterfly fluttering toward the flame, as her belated reunion with John approaches, though never quite nudges, incest. "I love you, you're my dream" the ultimate MILF tells him, during a mother and son's stroll down Blackpool promenade that feels uncomfortably close to a date. And she tells him what the phrase 'rock n roll' really means, while flirting with sailors in front of the jealous guy. "She'll hurt you" warns Mimi, lashing her metaphorical apron strings like steel whips. Adding, "Your mother has always needed company. Do you know what I mean by 'company'?"

This is tough stuff. With the exception of Christopher Munch's lo-fi masterpiece The Hours And Times, it's darker than previous Beatles biopics, and though it takes a few liberties with the timeline, the emotional honesty rings true. As far as these kinds of parcelled middlebrow dramas go (in which everyone achieves a tidy sort of redemption and closure before the credits), it is perfectly respectable. But it is also significantly, perhaps even fatally, flawed.

Despite some gripes, it's not tremendously important that the actors playing the nascent Beatles look nothing like their real-life counterparts; although, in all honesty, Barack Obama, Devendra Banhart and Robert Pershing Wadlow (the world's tallest man, 1918-1940) look more like John, George and Paul than this bunch.

But in casting Aaron Johnson as Lennon, you can't help thinking the producers have gone for beauty and youth over dynamism. Johnson (who, in a fairground-mirror reflection of the dynamic playing out on screen has just become engaged to the much older Sam Taylor Wood) possesses the artist's dreaminess - actually, he has something of the puppy-eyed pre-Saturday Night Fever Travolta about him - but lacks brittleness. The hardness. The element that made Ian Hart's rendition so conclusively definitive in The Hours And Times and Backbeat. Even when head-butting fellow band members, you can tell his heart isn't really in it. This current vogue for casting pretty boys in big leading roles (see: Robert Pattinson's Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, Zac Efron in Me And Orson Welles) may be honey to the box office bee, but it's railroading pictures. And anyway, the thing about Lennon was, he wasn't pretty. That was Paul's job.

There is also an appallingly clunky wedge of exposition in the final act, which seems to zoom in from nowhere, as Mimi relates to the tearful lad and the quaking Julia how her sister and Lennon's errant father Alf fought for ownership of the boy. It's awful and embarrassing, with Gothic, doomy chords punctuating the drama, like something out of a Jane Austen adaptation, while Mimi might as well be intoning, "Gather ye round and harken! It was a dark and stormy night..." It's a mystifying misstep in a film that previously only implies and hints at childhood trauma in flashback, and is all the more powerful for it.

More successfully evoked is the mothballed late 1950s, but also a sense of real change coming up from the streets. The Beatles' origin story is also well realised, with Lennon furiously attempting to stamp his will on an ersatz family. In Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster), he'd find a talent to match his own, and a more pragmatic, prematurely world-weary confidante; McCartney's mother died two years before John's. In perhaps the most moving scene of all, the then Quarrymen file into Percy Phillips' Liverpool recording studio in 1958 to lay down the track 'In spite of all the danger.' The sense of lost boys mewling for their absent mothers is palpable.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Angst-ridden teenage Lennon portrait lacks the necessary wit, charm and charisma

Author: Turfseer from United States
16 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

According to John Lennon's cousin, Leila Harvey, during the time she knew him (when he was between the ages of 9 and 16), he was a "happy-go-lucky, good-humored, easy going, lively lad." But looking at 'Nowhere Boy', the film that is supposed to accurately chronicle the coming of age years of John Lennon, you would be more likely to get the impression that he was a troubled and angst-ridden adolescent who was hardly the "happy-go-lucky" kid who eventually became the co-leader of the greatest rock band of the 20th century. And that is the problem with 'Nowhere Boy'--it simply fails to answer why John Lennon was charismatic, even in his unformed early days.

He was charismatic because he WAS quick, witty, iconoclastic and wickedly humorous, all IN SPITE of his difficult childhood. He was the type of person, I believe, who never dwelt on the past and probably would have dismissed 'Nowhere Boy' as tendentious nonsense. A few months before his death, Lennon spoke about his upbringing and he praised his mother and all of his aunts. There is not a hint of anger or bitterness which "Nowhere Boy" implies consumed him while growing up: "There were five women who were my family. Five strong, intelligent women. Five sisters. Those women were fantastic ... that was my first feminist education ... One happened to be my mother ... she just couldn't deal with life. She had a husband who ran away to sea and the war was on and she couldn't cope with me, and when I was four-and-a-half, I ended up living with her elder sister ... the fact that I wasn't with my parents made me see that parents are not gods."

Yoko Ono saw 'Nowhere Boy' twice and loved it. This is the same person who promoted "Imagine", the failed musical about John Lennon which put him up on a pedestal. 'Nowhere Boy' is a different kind of hagiography than the saintly John Lennon served up in the "Imagine' musical. Both portraits can be likened to two different views of Christ-like figures: the saintly Lennon is like the wandering miracle maker dressed in a white robe, healing those afflicted with a malaise of the spirit; the "Nowhere Boy' Lennon is one who undergoes a sort of spiritual crucifixion, enduring the slings and arrows of a torturous childhood and adolescence, emerging cleansed of all his trials and tribulations through a catharsis.

It's understandable that Yoko would hold on to both these idealized images of her slain husband. However, Paul McCartney, who actually remembers everything about growing up in Liverpool at that time, will have none of it. It's said that McCartney strongly objected to the scene where John punches him after his mother's funeral and asked Director Sam Taylor-Wood (who he supposedly was friends with) to take the scene out. Taylor-Wood refused and told him in substance, "it's just a movie". McCartney knows that Lennon would never have punched him because that would imply that Lennon allowed the bitterness of his upbringing to affect him. The film's scenarists would like us to believe that the climactic scene where he assaults McCartney, is where he exorcises his demons and achieves his catharsis (recall that he hugs McCartney afterward and apologizes). It's all cheap melodrama which never happened and the type of made up incident which Lennon would have also rejected had he been around to see the movie.

While 'Nowhere Boy' does a decent job of fleshing out the relationship between John's mother Julia and the aunt who raised him, Mimi, the more interesting story is the relationship John had with Paul as well as George and the peers he grew up with. All the key moments are covered in 'Nowhere Boy' including: the famous scene where John rides on the top of the bus, the first meeting with McCartney, the Quarrymen's first gig, a sexual encounter with a schoolmate, trouble at school, buying his first guitar—but it all seems like a glimpse at picture postcards. None of the relationships are developed, especially the most important one between Lennon and McCartney. And the real drama, of course, is not the dragged out familial problems, but how the Beatles actually came to be. To make that film, one would have had to have the rights to the Beatles catalog, a problem which the creators of 'Backbeat', the 1994 film about the Beatles Hamburg days, were also unable to overcome.

Perhaps the strongest aspect of 'Nowhere Boy' are the performances of Kristin Scott Thomas as Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff as Julia. Thomas is thoroughly convincing as the 'tough love' substitute parent playing opposite the troubled Bohemian of sorts, Julia. You can see how both women influenced Lennon's personality—he inherited Mimi's discipline and Julia's creativity and rebelliousness. Aaron Johnson manages to capture little of Lennon's great wit and humor, but is saddled by the ponderous script. The make-up department should be commended for making Johnson look like Lennon, especially once he adopts the Elvis pompadour. Thomas Brodie-Sangster takes a shot at Paul but doesn't look enough like the 'handsome' Beatle to be convincing. The actor who plays George looks nothing at all like him and the part is woefully underdeveloped.

We're informed by a prominent Beatles historian that 'Nowhere Boy' is the first film that covers John Lennon's early years including his upbringing and creation of the Beatles. While it does cover most of the bases, and does a decent job of defining the characters of Lennon's mother and aunt, Lennon himself comes off as a bit pathetic. Putting it another way—he's a character that all the joy has been sucked out of –and his angst-ridden replacement seems far from the flesh and blood rock icon, revered by millions.

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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

This movie is truly wonderful!!

Author: Saad Khan from Pakistan
28 July 2010

NOWHERE BOY – CATCH IT ( A ) Based upon the early life of Mr. John Lennon, this movie is truly wonderful… best thing about the movie is it's more of a British family drama then changed into totally music extravaganza… AarOn Johnson is undoubtedly the Best young Actor around … His portrayal of john Lennon' s is just incredible…from sweetness, to witness and cockiness… he grapes perfectly on all parts of John Lennon's behavior. Other incredible performance in the movie is by Anne-Marie Duff... She is outstanding, she is so good that I actually forgot that I m watching a movie and she is playing her role... You just want to see her previous work that good she is in this movie...Kristin Scott Thomas gave another great performance... All these three actors make the movie believable and if John Lennon would have been alive today... must be proud of them... In the end 1st time Director Sam Taylor-Wood did an excellent job with the story and movie. I still think about the movie and want to watch all over again.

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