Review: Nowhere Boy
PLOT: The story of John Lennon's formative years. As a teenager, Lennon (Aaron Johnson), found himself torn between his neglectful mother (Anne-Marie Duff), and his legal guardian, his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas). Meanwhile, his antagonistic friendship with a sensitive young man named Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster) ignites a love of music, leading to the creation of his first band, The Quarrymen- which later became, The Beatles.
REVIEW: NOWHERE BOY is a film I've looked forward to seeing for a long time. Being a Beatle-maniac, I always wondered why, in terms of biographical Beatles films, all we've have so far is the mediocre BACKBEAT. I suppose it has something to do with the exorbitant music rights, and this film conveniently ends right where BACKBEAT starts. This way, no actual Lennon/McCartney recordings are used, which I suppose kept the budget low.
While I'm disappointed that we still haven't had the whole Beatles story told; which I think demands a sprawling epic directed by someone like Martin Scorsese, this is nonetheless a fascinating look into the mind of a young John Lennon.
Anyone who knows anything about The Beatles, knows Lennon had some severe mother issues. One of his first solo hits, was the excruciatingly painful ballad 'Mother', which is predictably, but effectively used over the closing credits. In many ways, his childhood pain fed into his creativity, but Lennon was nothing if not tortured. In the lead, Aaron Johnson (who'll soon be hitting the screens as the titular KICK-ASS) does a credible job. It's a tough role, as Lennon's one of the most iconic figures of the last hundred years, but Johnson is fine and thankfully doesn't fall into the trap of imitating Lennon's distinctive voice.
Sadly, Thomas Sangster as McCartney does not fair as well. While neither Johnson nor Sangster look like the people they're playing, Johnson is able to stay true to the spirit, while Sangster seems too elvish, and somewhat wimpy. McCartney might have been sensitive, but he was no wimp, and they needed someone with more gravitas.
As Lennon's battling guardians, I though Anne-Marie Duff, and Kristin Scott-Thomas both did excellent work. Duff hits the right note, which is somewhere between creepy, and pathetic, as Lennon's unstable mum, while Scott-Thomas exudes the stability she lack, but also lacks her warmth, as she's a withdrawn woman with issues of her own.
However, the film does have its drawbacks. Director Sam Taylor-Wood has crafted an entertaining film, but it's nowhere near the level of something like CONTROL (the criminally under-seen Joy Division biopic). I also thought the film relied a little too heavily on the family-drama aspect of the film, as I was hoping you'd get more insight into the beginning of the Lennon/ McCartney partnership. Still, it's a good, solid film that entertained me from start to finish, but I still think a truly GREAT film about The Beatles has yet to be made.