The Boy who became a Beatle
Let me just clear up one thing first and that is "Nowhere Boy" is a movie for those who are fans of John Lennon and not so much for those who are fans of The Beatles. That may sound rather strange as we do get to see how John met Paul and inturn Paul introduced him to George, plus we also get to see them evolve from The Quarrymen into The Beatles but in a way The Beatles side of things is just as a consequence of this being a movie which focuses on John Lennon. And so "Nowhere Boy" is really about his teenage years and the confusing family relationships as he meets his mother Julia whilst his Aunt Mimi who raised him disapproves. It has to be said that "Nowhere Boy" is entertaining and well acted but unless you are a huge fan of John Lennon the importance of his teenage years may be lost on you, interesting but lost.
Admittedly I am not a huge fan of John Lennon, it's not that I disliked him in fact I like the musical legacy he left behind, but for me he was a very taleneted singer songwriter but nothing more. As such I don't believe that I am in the target demographic which "Nowhere Boy" was made for and that is those fans of John Lennon who would be interested in his teenage years which would be formative in the way his life went. Don't get me wrong as "Nowhere Boy" is interesting, I never knew that John was raised by his Aunt due to his real mother's various problems and that he never really got to know her till his teenage years. And as such I can't say how much of what we see is truth and how much is poetic licence. But all of this, the fact that John's real mother struggled with coping and he was raise by his aunt Mimi is very much an interesting story for fans of Lennon.
What is of more interesting is how both his mother and aunt played their part in John becoming a musician. And to be honest it is this side of the story how he formed The Quarrymen, met Paul and then George which is interesting to a wider audience. You begin to understand what John's early influences were both when it came to him picking up an instrument but also the lyrics he wrote.
Now whether you are interested in John Lennon or not there is one thing for sure and the acting is first rate. Aaron Johnson not only gets across the typical teenager side of John's character, especially one growing up in the 60s but does a good job of delivering the conflict in his life as he meets his mother and struggles to deal with why she let his Aunt Mimi raise him. There is a wonderful restraint to all of this which then disappears when John's rage erupts as he struggles with why his mum left him.
Talking of his mum Anne-Marie Duff is a wonderful surprise as Julia because we watch how one minute she is full of vitality but the next fragile. In fact you have to commend director Sam Taylor-Wood for making Julia's character so good because she allows us to make are own assumptions to Julia's problems when it comes to her stability. And then there is Kristin Scott Thomas who as Mimi steals many a scene by playing a character who is very restrained, you could say old school in being emotionless.
What this all boils down to is that "Nowhere Boy" is a good movie, it is an above average movie and an interesting one at that. But part of me feels that this movie is for those who are fans of John Lennon and not just The Beatles because this is all about his teenage years and how he dealt with meeting his mother. It does show us how The Beatles came to be and what influences there were on John as a musician but the focus is on the 3 way relationship between John, his mother Julia and Aunt Mimi who raised him.