Nowhere Boy Review: Mad About The Boy

NOWHERE BOY: On General Release From 26th December 2009

Nowhere Boy chronicles the early life of musical legend and British icon, John Lennon.

Of course ‘before fame’ biopics wouldn’t work with every rock legend. I don’t think anyone is gonna pay to see ‘Jon Bon Jovi: The Early Years’.

While towards the end of his life the world knew him as a long-haired hippy lying in bed and waiting for peace, in his teen year it appears he was quite the wild child. Before the Beatles, before the bowl haircut and…before Yoko.

Matt Greenhalgh’s script shows us the rebellious, blokey side of Lennon including drinking, girls and a smoking habit that would put a lung cancer ward to shame.

Lennon spent most of his youth being raised by his formidable aunt Mimi portrayed by the undeniable talent, Kristin Scott Thomas. She’s indelibly proper and whose cold demeanour disguises great affection for her young ward.

But Lennon’s life is turned upside down when he decides to reconnect with his mother, Julia, whom he hasn’t seen in years. Undiagnosed as bi-polar, Julia is Mimi’s bi-polar opposite: she’s bubbly, vivacious, sexy and the one to introduce Lennon to rock and roll. Played by one of Britain’s finest, if for some reason, unnamable, Anne-Marie Duff, Julia is a colourful whirlwind.

Stealing the spotlight from his leading ladies is Aaron Johnson as Lennon. Johnson played the part with a bolshy swagger I wasn’t expecting and it worked like a charm. He was able to flit between teenage angst and the sensitivity of an artist, Johnson’s Lennon was mesmerizing. But if Lennon was around today he would have been an emo kid locked in his room writing slit-your-wrist poetry and combing his fringe to the side.

Filling the role to perfection, Aaron Johnson will surely be in line for some accolades off of the back of Nowhere Boy.

At 95 minutes long, it hardly seems sufficient but you’ll be satisfied with what was included. Wood includes Lennon’s first encounters with the other Beatles and is cool enough to handle to them easily without giving them pompous ‘this is it’ introductions.

Paul McCartney is played sensitively by Thomas Sangster but he does look about 12; unfortunately makes the movie feel like at times it’s a case of kids dressing up in their dads clothes and playing at rock stars.

The script is top-notch and is equal in merriment and misery and Wood’s direction is fresh without rubbing it in our faces. A well-chosen cast and attention to details of the period make the film feel fully fleshed out and give it heart.

While it may feel like there was more to say, we can only hope (for once!) that there will be a sequel. Johnson’s engaging persona is too good to put away forever.

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