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Nowhere Boy

A movie released October 08, 2010

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Nowhere Boy – A reserved, modest biopic fascinated by its 'nowhere'

  • Nov 6, 2010
  • by
3 Stars out of 4

Nowhere Boy deserves appreciation for its scale, intentions, and drama. All three come in small doses that do not ask for anything more than our immediate attention. Since October 2010 marked the seventieth birthday of rock legend John Lennon, it feels necessary to witness Nowhere Boy as a retrospective of the days leading up to a meaningful legacy. 

Aaron Johnson is Lennon: his accent is thick, his nuances reflect Lennon in young blood, and he renders motivation and a callous cockiness to him. John skips school, lies to his teachers, rides streetcars on their roofs, and plays guitar. But this is a film that eliminates the stardom and puts John in a more bourgeois environment in typical 1950's England suburbia. 

It begins on tragedy though. John and his Uncle George (David Threlfall) enjoy a swig of whiskey but suddenly the uncle collapses and dies. John, from then on, never has exactly a father figure and seems to shape his own manhood. His guardian is his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas) and she has a close watch over John. In those days, boys would be boys and that never was a good thing. John is more attracted to the liberal youthfulness of his mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff). She encourages him to learn an instrument, to sing songs and walk by the boardwalk to romanticize life.

John is a romantic, obsessed with the glamour of Elvis (as most boys were). He combs his hair and tightens his face to put on a virile figure like the King of Rock and Roll. John sighs and wonders: "why didn't God make me Elvis?" Julie smiles and exclaims, "because He was saving you for John Lennon!" She was right.

John decides to form a rock and roll group. He has learned the fundamentals of guitar and looks to his friends to join an amateur band. "We know nothing about rock music!" they complain. John, the leader of the pack as he is, explains: "You don't have to know. What's important is that I've chosen you." Sure enough they become The Quarrymen and, who would have guessed it, they are very good. Their music represents something of the Blues Brothers crossed with Elvis, in an amalgamation of improvised rock. People dance, smile, and enjoy. They could only get better.

Of course we are introduced to Paul (never given the last name) – he's played by Thomas Sangster. In a hilariously, perfectly timed scene, Paul strums a jubilant ditty to John and his gang. It looks like a music standoff as John watches, raises his eyes, almost inputting that this young fella (just turned 15 to be exact) might be better than him. 

Nowhere Boy is more fascinating than it is fun. Since the film purposely reserves itself, we are never exactly palpitated by the music's energy (which is what Across The Universe tried to epitomize...and failed terribly). Based on the memoir by Julia Baird, Nowhere Boy is intent on its melodrama, and finding the emotional core in John's individuality and the parent trap between his aunt and mother. At those moments, the film feels like scutwork; dealing in the springtide moments of a rock and roll legend, the script is unsure how to make these family issues compelling stuff when it mishandles John's enigma by handing it to overplayed kitsch.

Yet there's a great feeling watching Nowhere Boy. The ebullience knowing that The Quarrymen would become very influential and significant beyond just their lyrics is something the film allows us to speculate and admire on. It never excuses its scenes to references of The Beatles life (in fact that title is never mentioned). 

Nowhere Boy has fun downplaying itself to register emotions a part of a character only prone to the abstracts of love and peace. Here John is tumultuous – prone to grief and always fighting to obtain a dignity that comforts him. His guitar is a plus to him – it speaks the wisdom that John unfathomably contained. It's about a boy in a state of nowhere, where we as a result are entranced by a life of a legend that will soon go somewhere.
Nowhere Boy – A reserved, modest biopic fascinated by its 'nowhere'

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February 19, 2011
NIce review.  Saw this in Borders the other day and almost purchased it.  Would like to learn more about John's life prior to The Beatles.
November 06, 2010
Great review!  Have you checked out @BlackSheep's or @JenniferW's reviews?

John's enigmatic personality would be incredibly hard to capture, unless you have actual footage of John, himself. But, it's a shame if they make it kitschy. I'd love to check this flick out! I have to say that I liked Across the Universe so I'd love to hear what you didn't like about it...
November 07, 2010
thanks. i need to see across the universe again in order to go in depth. i will check our blacksheep and jenniferw in the meantime!!!
November 07, 2010
Anytime, thanks for turning me onto this film :)
More Nowhere Boy reviews
review by . February 19, 2011
NOWHERE BOY is a pleasant, often rambling, look at the teen years of John Lennon. It's the short time frame between Lennon being a prankish, low-level vandal and troubled schoolboy who readily captures the interest of the young ladies and his explosion onto the rock scene as a founder of The Beatles.    When the movie begins, Lennon (Aaron Johnson) is living with his aunt Mimi (Kristen Scott Thomas) and Uncle George. His uncle has given him a love of music, radio and generally …
review by . February 02, 2011
All you need is love
The year is 1957, and 16-year old Liverpool lad John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) is miserable. He hates school and his strict aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott-Thomas) and his mother who abandoned him when he was five. Then he meets his mother again and although she's a little odd, he loves having a mum again, while his auntie isn't so sure.      This little film tells the interesting and sad story of Lennon's childhood and his search for maternal love. Unfortunately, Johnson not …
review by . October 30, 2010
NoWhere Boy and John Lennon's Youth
Nowhere Boy is a biopic about John Lennon's teenage years, beginning when he was 15. More than anything, Nowhere Man is about John's relationship with his aunt Mimi, the women who raised him, and his mother, Julia, the women who didn't. These relationships had a huge impact on the man John Lennon became and his music.      The film also explores John's infatuation with Elvis, his desire to form a rock band and how the Quarrymen came to be. His meeting with Paul …
review by . October 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Nowhere Boy Finds Good Home
NOWHERE BOY   Written by Matt Greenhalg   Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood   Starring Aaron Johnson, Kristen Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff       John: Why couldn’t God make me Elvis?   Julia: Because he was saving you for John Lennon.       I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of Sam Taylor-Wood’s art firsthand in exhibition.  It was stark, cold but yet still emotional and affecting.  …
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Parker Mott ()
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Member Since: Nov 6, 2010
Last Login: Dec 16, 2010 02:20 AM UTC
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About this movie


Nowhere Boy
 is a 2009 British biopic about John Lennon's adolescence, the creation of his first band, The Quarrymen, and its evolution into The Beatles.

The drama tells the story of Lennon's teenage years and the start of his journey to becoming a successful musician. The story also examines the impact on his early life and personality of the two dominant females in his childhood - his Aunt Mimi, and his mother, Julia. In addition, the film shows the first meeting of Lennon with future Beatle Paul McCartney, and the development of their friendship and musical partnership. British actor Aaron Johnson portrays Lennon, and Thomas Brodie Sangster plays Paul McCartney. Aunt Mimi is portrayed by Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff plays Julia.

The film is scheduled to receive its US release on October 8, 2010, coinciding with that weekend's celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Lennon's birth (October 9, 1940).

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Movies, Drama Movies, Drama, The Beatles, Biopic, John Lennon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Nowhere Boy, Aaron Johnson


Director: Sam Taylor-Wood
Genre: Drama
Release Date: October 08, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Matt Greenhalgh
Runtime: 1hr 35min
Studio: Ecosse Films
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