Poor John Lennon. Nowhere Boy is an engaging biopic directed by conceptual artist Sam Taylor-Wood about the turbulent teenage years of the Beatles’ life in post-war Liverpool. From age five he’s brought up by his strict and stern Aunt Mimi and kindly Uncle George and then he discovers that after all these years his mother Julia has lived within walking distance from his house. Fun and flighty Julia teaches him to play the banjo and Lennon discovers his musical talent, picking out chords in his bedroom.
For Lennon fans none of the storyline will come as a surprise but for me some of the events came as a shock, and it was an eye-opening to find out more about Lennon’s early life and to reflect on how it may have influenced his personality, his attitude towards life and his music. While of course Lennon is the key protaganist in the film, there’s an interesting emotional tug-of-war also happening in the foreground between his aunt and his mother.
The cast plays their famous roles perfectly, with Aaron Johnson as the intense, cheeky and cocksure young Lennon, Kristin Scott Thomas as his disapproving Aunt Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff as highly-strung Julia. The only false note in the movie was when Lennon was first introduced to the other future members of the Beatles, and it couldn’t be helped really. But it did seem a little ridiculous to hear dialogue like ‘Hi, I’m John Lennon’ ‘This is Paul McCartney’ ‘Hey, meet George Harrison’.
Nowhere Boy is a joyful and simultaneously moving story of the formative years of a great talent. Go and see it.
Finally, some interesting gossip; after the movie’s premiere at the London Film Festival, Sam-Taylor Wood (aged 42) and Aaron Johnson (aged 19) announced their engagement. According to the Telegraph, despite the 23-year age gap, they insist their friends and family have been ”really supportive” of their relationship.