Nowhere Boy, 2009.
Directed by Sam Taylor Wood.
Starring Aaron Johnson, Kristen Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff.
This is the story of teenage John Lennon and his three loves – his music, his Mum, and his Aunt.
The sign of a really good film is when you walk out of the cinema and into a bookshop to find out more, and that several hours later, your are still immersed in the subject. Nowhere Boy has caused me to rekindle my Beatles/Lennon interest, and I am already considering a second viewing. This is a period of John’s life I knew little of and not the era of his music that I like. But I allowed the film to tell its story without concerning myself with my musical tastes or the biographical truth.
I love that both women – Aunt Mimi and Julia his Mum – have moments of warmth and sympathy, and there is no judgment of either. It’s too simplistic to say that Mimi is uptight and posh and trad, whilst Julia is the crazy freespirited one. How can Mimi be so respectably conventional when she is a chain smoker with an illicit affair? The family relationships hinted at are somewhat unconventional if not shocking. I wondered what was meant by John’s relationship with his Uncle – the way they collapsed on the stairs and at his funeral, John says that George was ‘more than an uncle’…? Julia behaves as if her son is also her toyboy, kissing him repeatedly and flirting in front of him.
At the end he particularly shows a trait that he candidly owned and lamented later in his life: violence. But he is also a very loving person, someone who does awful things but somehow you like him and want him to like you. Aaron Johnson’s portrayal of John has so much character, making everything he says and does distinct and charismatic, and a natural leader. As Julia, Anne-Marie Duff is amazing yet again, handling another fascinating complex multifaceted character; as is Kristen Scott Thomas as the contrasting aunt – credit to her for ensuring she is not just a dichotomy. There was another member of the cast that I enjoyed watching and would like to see again – the great city of Liverpool.
Nowhere Boy trailer: