NOWHERE BOY Review

I expected this to be better than it was, but it was nowhere near disappointing. As you sit and watch the events of the most infamous Beatles childhood unfold in front of you it is nothing short of fascinating simply because of who this story is about, even if the makers would like you to believe this story could survive on its own even if we weren't watching a young John Lennon. Thus the story of Johns relationships with the mother who abandoned him and the aunt who raised him are emphasized as the focal points of the film, when all the audience is truly looking forward to is that moment when John meets Paul and they embark on the journey of all journey's together.
Not to say that the main conflict of the story isn't interesting, it probably could hold its own as a stand-alone film. The relational dynamics between John and his birth mother are fascinating in that it is she who introduces this world of rock and roll and is sort of a questionable figure in his life whereas his Aunt Mimi is the one who has to enforce the rules, the stricter of the two and of course the better one for him to be around. And while both of these women certainly hold a dear place in his heart and played a crucial role in developing the man that would become an icon. Neither, at least for me, get the prize for most interesting relationship in the film. No, the one that takes the cake is the one where John gets to know rock and roll and how it slowly becomes a part of him. It is insanely interesting to see how the man who would come to define part of the genre became acquainted with it. If you are a fan of the Beatles at all you will enjoy the film for its history lesson, but be warned, this is not a movie about the band.

Which brings me back around to the fact that I really wish there would have been more performances, more music and more inspiration. That as we watched the young Lennon come up in Liverpool we would get to see the inspirations for the songs that are now known all over the world. That is not what the intentions of this movie were though, and I can understand that, even if it does leave us yearning for so much more. As Lennon, Aaron Johnson inhabits the role, getting the voice and mannerisms seemingly down in every scene. We never see a flicker of another person, he is always true to the character he has created from no doubt countless hours of studying video footage and listening to recordings. As his aunt Mimi, Kristin Scott Thomas is greatly effective in every single scene. She comes out being the rock John was struggling to find. As young McCartney, Thomas Sangster has just the right look and charm. he isn't given much screen time or too much dialogue, but the moments he and John share that mean worlds more than the film ever indicates are ones that you look to the person next to you and smile at. They are special, they are history.

I am a sucker for bio-pics and even moreso when they are about a musical figure. And though "Nowhere Boy" isn't as much about the music as I would have liked it to be, it is still showing the beginnings of a man that would bring about a revolution. With that little tid bit attached to its protagonist this film is immediately interesting. It is attractive to its audience because of who this main character is. So I may not understand why director Sam Taylor Wood doesn't spend more time focusing her camera on the boys singing and writing music, but I can at least thank her for filling in the missing spaces of what might have motivated Lennon to become the man he later did. It leaves you with a sense of inspiration, yet I marvel at how a young man so unknowing, so curious came to become a man of such artistic expression and strong opinions. To see the critical moments in his life that made the wheels in his mind begin to turn is something of an almost breathtaking experience, if only we could have seen the results as well. Instead, we get one priceless scene where John, Paul and George record their first song together and in that moment the film truly shines and knowing what came next only makes it all the more bittersweet.