You may not have heard about this film yet; on the other hand you will recognize its iconic subject: John Lennon. This film was shown as part of Star-Telegram Modern Cinema 2010. Its U.S. release date is October 8, 2010.
Nowhere Boy is about a boy named John Lennon (Aaron Johnson), with working class roots in Britain, whose lackluster performance in high school belies his destiny as the future golden boy of rock. Director Sam Taylor-Woods’ film about 15-year-old John Lennon is a well-acted, handsome homage to the pop icon.
The 98-minute film about John’s real life reminds you that that a) life’s not fair because b) no one gets 100% good karma to settle. John is no exception. His strange mix of good luck and bad conduct in the school of hard knocks is often of his own making. John is the class clown whose trips to the office and suspensions from school begin to feel normal. His aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas) raises him well. Her straight-laced upbringing is juxtaposed with John’s time spent with his biological mother (Anne-Marie Duff), who happens to live down the lane. Mother plays the good uncle role: born to fulfill every whim of a wayward John Lennon (his birth name). This leads to fireworks between the two sisters who both love John in their own way.
A battle royal ensues between the sisters and John plays referee all the while stoking the flames. This leads to a showdown between the women. Running parallel to these personal struggles is the flowering of John’s small legacy in music and song. The gift comes from his mother, whom he discovers only a few months before her early death. His mother is the reckless one in the family and her serenade and rendition of a pop song reveals to John she’s got hidden musical talent and an ear for music. Nowhere Boy overtly suggests that this is the source of John’s musical genius.
He knows he now has an alternative to becoming a scholar. He can go the iconoclast rock star route a la Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly. In the film, he begins his life with a band using a real working class name: The Quarrymen. While this is before the days of Ringo Starr’s debut with the group, it does give us a glimpse into John’s early relationship with band members Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
Baby-faced Paul can read and write music and so can George. This leads to jealously on John’s part. He resists incorporating them into his—emphasis on “his”—band. John is nobody’s fool and knows that this is the way to go—band members with musical training. These young guitars get gigs with their polished look and sound. With John’s newfound confidence Paul can play musical tutor to the soon-to-be famous founder of The Beatles, John Lennon. The beauty of Nowhere Boy is what we learn about the sad and ugly genesis of a teenager who fits in nowhere yet achieves global fame.
Limited release, running time: 98 minutes Rating: PG-13 for drugs, sexual situations.