John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) grows up with his aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his uncle George (David Threlfall), his mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) never playing a big role in his life. Until his uncle dies and he sees her at the funeral. John starts visiting Julia more and more often and they forge a bond over Julia’s love of Rock’n’Roll. But John soon makes the painful discovery that there’s an actual reason why he doesn’t live with his mother.
Nowhere Boy is a well acted and written examination of an angry adolescent (yeah, I know, a bit of a tautology), which has little to do with the “legend” John Lennon, member of the Beatles. It paints quite a different picture from what we have of him today, which makes it even more interesting.
Unfortunately, I only got to see the German dubbed version and the translation is absolutely grating. [What the hell, OV cinemas in Vienna?]
When I think of John Lennon, the first thing that comes to mind is his time with Yoko Ono – the protesting in bed, “Imagine” and everybody wearing white. Then my mind slowly walks back in time to the beginning of the Beatles (though the closer we get to the beginning, the more Paul McCartney takes the center stage)*. But I never thought about John Lennon the teenager until now. And actually John-the-furious-headbutting-adolescent is quite a different person from the John living in my head.
It was interesting to see this version, especially since Aaron Johnson (who has a very nice singing voice, btw) delivers a wonderful performance, completely holding his own between Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff (who actually made me say to deadra within the first five minutes of the film, “can you say bipolar?” Duff certainly can), which is no easy feat.
I also really liked the production design – costumes, sets, it all felt very authentic.
As only behooves a movie about John Lennon, the soundtrack is great.
But it’s actually quite non-essential in this film that John goes on to become the musical legend. What the movie conveys the most is that John Lennon was anybody before he was somebody.
Summarising: If you avoid dubbed versions, you will enjoy this film.
*I’m sure you all think this particular insight into my head extremely interesting…