ByTowne ByTowne Cinema
325 Rideau St. Ottawa K1N 5Y4
Info Line: (613) 789-FILM
As a boy, all John Lennon needed was love.
Directed by British artist Sam Taylor-Wood, Nowhere Boy is a biopic about the early days of John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) based on the book by John’s half-sister Julia. In 1955, John is living with his aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his uncle George (David Threlfall), who have raised him since he was five years old, but when George dies, John reconnects with his flighty mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), which causes tension between the two women and also between Julia and her husband Bobby (David Morrissey).
Meanwhile, John discovers rock’n’roll through hanging out with his mother and decides to form a skiffle band with his friends. When he meets young Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster), he senses he’s found a kindred spirit and the pair begin to write songs together.
Aaron Johnson certainly looks the part here, capturing something of Lennon’s spirit and nailing his key emotional scenes. The rest of the cast are terrific, particularly Kristin Scott Thomas, who reveals a hint of warmth under Mimi’s buttoned-up exterior and Anne-Marie Duff, whose skilful performance subtly hints at Julia’s fragile mental and emotional state. There’s also strong support from David Morrissey, David Threlfall and Thomas Sangster, who underplays nicely as Paul.
Taylor-Wood’s direction is excellent, convincingly recreating the feel of 1950s Liverpool thanks to some impeccable work by her production design team. The script is equally good (the dialogue is peppered with Lennon’s familiar sarcasm) and there’s a superb soundtrack to boot – the scenes of the band performing are extremely well done, offering tantalising hints of the greatness to come, particularly in the recording room sequence.
In addition, the film is packed with brilliant scenes and wonderful little moments, such as Lennon and his friend riding on the roof of a double decker bus or John’s reaction to Paul speaking to the audience for the first time.
Nowhere Boy is a hugely enjoyable, emotionally engaging and superbly acted biopic that marks Sam Taylor-Wood out as a director to watch. Highly recommended.
– Matthew Turner, ViewLondon
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