Alternative Tunings Blog

Alternative Tunings

He's a Real Nowhere Boy..

Jan 1

Written by:
1/1/2010 3:53 PM  RssIcon

 I went to see Sam Taylor-Wood’s highly anticipated directorial debut in ‘Nowhere Boy’, a film depicting the teenage years of John Lennon..

In my infinite wisdom I overestimated the time the trailers would be on, so missed the first minute of the film, much to my annoyance. Set in Liverpool in the late 50s Lennon (Aaron Johnson) is torn between two very influential women in his life - his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), who he lived with since childhood and his mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), who lived around the corner with her other children. His Aunt Mimi is a staunch, strict middle class woman with upper class aspirations. It’s noticeable that while Scouse accents are of course prevalent in the film Lennon’s Aunt Mimi never speaks with one. His mother Julia is a fun loving, creative and vivacious woman.

Having already read various books about Lennon’s life from many different angles I found it hard at times to not think “that never happened!” and “that character wasn’t really like that!” In which case I found it hard to judge it on the merits of a film of its own, and to not compare it to factual accounts of certain events. But about 20 minutes into the film all of that was forgotten.

At times the way Lennon’s relationship with his mother Julia was portrayed was a bit odd, it appeared to be more like a boyfriend - girlfriend relationship, exchanging admiring glances and kissing each other a lot which are usually reserved for such relationships.

The scenes were mesmerising, at times it felt like I was actually in Liverpool in the 50s. I was expecting ’Ferry Cross the Mersey’ to start playing at any given moment, even though it wasn’t released til the mid 60s! The acting was flawless, never did it feel like the emotion was slipping and everything was very believable, it was a brilliant performance by everyone involved. The only issue I have is, again, the creepy way Lennon’s relationship with his mother was portrayed.

The film ends just before Lennon sets off for Hamburg with the Beatles, and, well, we all know what happened after that. I’ve seen many films concerning the Beatles and John Lennon, some terrible (Chapter 27 comes to mind) and some brilliant. And Nowhere Boy is definitely at the top of the list for brilliance. In short, Nowhere Boy is a film you’ll regret not seeing, especially if you’re a John Lennon fan.


5 comment(s) so far...


I saw a few scathing reviews of this one but you've made me curious now - I remember 'Backbeat', where Ian Hart as Lennon stole the film: is this one better? Also, I like Sam Taylor Wood so I'm interested to see what a film of hers is like...

By aidan on   1/13/2010 11:09 PM

I thought 'Nowhere Boy' was a fair bit better than 'Backbeat', but that's probably because 'Backbeat' dealt with an area of his life that was already pretty well known by most fans and has been discussed alot. I like Sam Taylor-Wood aswell, I was already familiar with her art work before I went to see 'Nowhere Boy' so I was unsure of what to expect but it's all really, really well done.

By Rest_Energy on   1/15/2010 6:14 PM

Speaking of artists making movies, Banksy has a movie now - 'Exit Throught The Gift Shop'. Music by Geoff Barrow of Portishead. It's being premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend - wonder if he'll show up or even appear in the film... However, from the trailer it looks appalling:

By aidan on   1/21/2010 11:46 PM

Looked a bit like a 'Jackass' trailer. 'Exit Through The Gift Shop' appears to be a prime example of when artists and films don't mix. It's a shame, Banksy's also another artist I'm quite fond of. I've seen some faux Banky's in town, never equate to the real thing!

By Rest_Energy on   1/22/2010 1:57 AM

I liked it. It captured a time and place well, very few dodgy wigs and fake accents. I remember a similar "Lennon in his youth" film was released over ten years ago with an Irish actor and it was abysmal. So the standard isn't very high but the Lennon character was portrayed with just the right level of acidic wit and downright meanness.

I didn't really know what to make of the mother/son relationship bordering on the incestuous either. If there's any truth in it then it certainly explains his rounds of therapy in the years that followed!

By Peter Teehan on   1/29/2010 4:48 PM

Your name:
Gravatar Preview
Your email:
(Optional) Email used only to show Gravatar.
Your website:
Add Comment   Cancel