Again, those who have an interest in Lennon already know the man was not a saint. Yes, he abandoned his first wife Cynthia and their child Julian. Yes, he was bored with The Beatles during the group's final days and was not always kind to his bandmates. And yes, he struggled with substance abuse, including a heroin addiction. But I have to question the decision to make a film based almost entirely on these negative attributes. With all the print interviews, audio interviews, and film footage available of the real John Lennon, there isn't much value in a semi-fictionalized dramatization. A more well-rounded perspective on Lennon as both a private and public figure can be gained from non-fiction sources.
At 46 years old, Eccleston is a questionable choice to portray the lead role. Lennon was only 40 at the time of his murder. Eccleston does a passable vocal impersonation, but his one-note characterization makes it hard to get past the physical dissimilarity. The blame for lack of depth must be shared by the writer, who keeps the tone profoundly depressed throughout. Claudie Blakley is given virtually nothing to do as the long-suffering Cynthia Lennon. The rest of the supporting characters are similarly underwritten. Only Adrian Bower as longtime Lennon friend Pete Shotton registers as more than caricature. Bower effectively conveys the mix of bewilderment and disgust as he sees his childhood friend devolve into apathetic depression.
At eighty-one minutes the film is mercifully brief, though its stilted, perfunctory style makes it seem considerably longer. Beatles fans, whether longtime or recent, would be far better off watching the 1988 documentary Imagine: John Lennon or the 2000 DVD release Gimme Some Truth - The Making of John Lennon's Imagine. Eccleston fanatics may be interested in knowing that he makes the film's title quite literal during the restaging of Lennon and Ono's infamous Two Virgins album cover shoot. Otherwise, Lennon Naked deserves to languish in obscurity.