Nowhere Boy - Blu-ray Review

'works dramatically, rather than functioning on the sole basis that we are seeing behind a curtain shrouded in Beatles mythology'

Essentially a narrow-focus biography covering John Lennon's teenage years, Nowhere Boy functions regardless of your interest in its subject or knowledge of his music. Whilst late appearances by Paul (McCarthy, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and George (Harrison, played by Sam Bell) will send Beatles fans into raptures of delight, the joy of Sam Taylor-Wood's film is similar to that of the familial interactions and coming-of-age histrionics present in last year's Oscar-nominated An Education.

Aaron Johnson as Lennon shows a range which hints that his starring turn in Kick-Ass might not have been down to mere fluke. Confident and cocky, Johnson presents Lennon as angry at both himself and his family simultaneously, developing the realistic persona of soon-to-be maverick rockstar trapped in the unsuccessful guise of a teenager. The supporting turns of Lennon's childhood friends mirror his own inner-conflicts, creating the feeling of a childhood in turmoil, apexing, as it does, at the joining of a heady couple of decades.

Whilst Taylor-Wood and Johnson get Lennon nailed down in a very attractive way, the superstar's family represent the main dramatic interest of Nowhere Boy. Trapped between a mother with a destructive joie de vivre (Anne-Marie Duff) and a dour but kind-hearted guardian (Kristin Scott Thomas), Lennon's problems at home seem to increasingly drown out his problems at school as the film progresses. For a man who wrote fairly little of his internal or external conflicts into his music, the insight into a life plagued by loss and in-fighting is revelatory. Crucially though, it also works dramatically, rather than functioning on the sole basis that we are seeing behind a curtain shrouded in Beatles mythology.

If there's criticism here it's that none of Lennon's relationships (save those of his family) are developed with any meaningful depth. The charming Ophelia Lovibond is present as a love interest but quickly disappears. Perhaps this is, strictly speaking, a matter of fact, but the handsome Lennon must have had relationships of one sort or another. Anything of a romantic nature here is presented casually to force the focus back to the family unit and (although presenting Lennon as slightly cold might have been the point) the film loses warmth because of it.

That said, Taylor-Wood's direction rarely hits faults. Nowhere Boy moves at a deliberate pace and, accompanied by a lovely score and well-chosen rock'n'roll pieces, this is a delightfully low-key drama with oodles of talent who will surely go on to even better things.

Look further...

'an emotional and gripping story that is very well acted out' - Geek Boy Movie News, A-

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