The Brag

Film Review: Nowhere Boy

In Arts, Brag 342 (December 14), Film Reviews on December 22, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Aaron Johnson (centre) as John Lennon in Nowhere Boy.

Nowhere Boy
Released December 26

The story of John Lennon’s adolescence, in 1950s Liverpool, is a tale which features all the elements of a gripping Hollywood style drama: intriguing characters, tumultuous emotions, and of course, human sacrifice. 21st century film audiences have been going gaga for well-made high-end biopics – from Capote to Walk the Line, they are a proven box-office success. I’m sure Nowhere Boy will prove no different.

Up-and-coming British film maker Sam Taylor-Wood has created a biopic which is heavily indebted to Lennon’s own stories of his dysfunctional adolescence. Lennon spoke openly, both in the records he made as a solo artist and in interviews, about the three elements of his life tackled in Taylor-Wood’s film: growing-up in Liverpool, the women who raised him, and most importantly, the beginnings of his musical discoveries.

The film, much like Walk the Line, is wonderfully focused and appropriately contained. At no point does it stray from the three elements of Lennon’s life mentioned above, and at no point does it over-dramatise an already dramatic life.

The aesthetic is also interesting to note due to its colour and vibrancy, as 1950’s England is so often portrayed by film makers as a bleak and haunting place. Aaron Johnson, playing the young and rebellious Lennon, gives a strong and at times even powerful portrayal of the pop-culture icon, but unfortunately his dashing good looks sacrifice much of the authenticity of his performance. And it is this, coupled with the films clean Hollywood aesthetic, which unfortunately allows Nowhere Boy to too often slip into the realms of mediocrity.

Barlow Redfearn


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