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Nowhere Boy

A movie released October 08, 2010

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A solid, unassuming but well-acted look at a youthful John Lennon

  • Feb 19, 2011
  • by
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 acting silly. His aunt tries earnestly to instill him with discipline and to put to good use young John's restless energy and undeniable charisma. She clearly loves John (and vice-versa), but theirs is a relationship fraught with tension, because John yearns for his real mother, Julia. After his uncle dies, John's desire to "get out of the house" grows by leaps when he discovers his mother lives very near him. He begins to hang out with Julia (Anne-Marie Duff). Julia has a new husband and some young kids of her own, yet she too is compelled to hang out with her son. Julia, who ranges between being a "free spirit" to "slightly crazy", seems to have an almost sexual attraction her son. Nothing happens, but there are plenty of vaguely uncomfortable scenes, where she acts more like a teenybopper girlfriend than his mother. John is eager to spend the time with her, but is also uncomfortable with the kind of attention he gets. And he's not comfortable with the kind of attention the strict Aunt Mimi gives him either.

Music becomes a refuge, and he puts together a band (playing the guitar his aunt was foresightful enough to get him, despite knowing nothing about guitars or modern music). John enjoys this hobby, which becomes more serious, until eventually he meets up with much younger Paul McCartney.

Things come to a head between the two sisters and the movie takes many emotional turns, jolting the impressionable Lennon from one feeling to another. He's not exactly a "tortured soul", but we sure do feel compassion for this bright but angry kid when life deals him so many hard blows.

The movie ends just as Lennon and his new group head off to Hamburg. As viewers, we know superstardom lies just around the corner, but the film mostly has a bittersweet tone to it. It could just as easily have been a fictional story about a young kid from Liverpool who comes to rough peace with the hard knocks of his life, and starts a solid career playing early rock ‘n' roll. We know it's about John Lennon, but because no music from The Beatles is featured (and none of the last names of the other Beatles are even used), it feels slightly removed from feeling like a biography. This is both good and bad. It's bad, because the movie feels a little coy about avoiding The Beatles (I assume this was for licensing reasons), to the point where you can't help but notice. But it's good, because this is a story about a youth becoming a young man…not "the kid who would be John Lennon."

It's modest all around, but has nice art direction and costuming, capturing the times quite well. The best things in the movie are the 3 lead performances. Duff is sparkling and giddy and a little dangerous as Julia. We feel bad for her, and we resent the bad things she does. Thomas, who is always excellent, gives a restrained performance as the uptight aunt who has a deep love for her nephew that comes through in anguished little bursts and glints of pride in the eyes. It's low-key work, but very effective. And Aaron Johnson, whom I really came to like as the star of KICK-A*S, shows that he's very likely to be a force to be reckoned with in years to come. Handsome, sensitive, smart and funny. His Lennon feels like it could be the John Lennon we "knew" during the heyday of the Beatles…but the performance has depth and feeling that go far beyond "imitation."

It's a solid film that won't exactly shake you to the core or make you think of The Beatles in a new way. But it offers many pleasures that anyone who loves film should appreciate, frankly even if you're NOT a Beatles fan (if such exists).

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More Nowhere Boy reviews
review by . November 06, 2010
Nowhere Boy – A reserved, modest biopic fascinated by its 'nowhere'
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 …
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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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, Nowhere Boy, Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas


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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