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Nowhere Boy
Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood
Ecosse Films/Film4/Lipsync Prod. + others

Directed by: Sam Taylor-Wood
Written by: Matt Greenhalgh (based on Julia Baird's memoirs)
Starring: Aaron Johnson (as John Lennon), Kristin Scott Thomas (as Aunt Mimi), Anne-Marie Duff (as Julia Lennon/Dykins), Thomas Sangster (as Paul McCartney), plus others.

Nowhere Boy tells the story about young the John Lennon; adolescence, boyhood and teen years - years before stardom and pop glory.

Liverpool, 1955. We're introduced to the 15-year-old Lennon, a cheeky and rebellious teenager, who's crusing around Liverpool along with his lad Pete. The twosome going bus-surfing, shop-lifting, prank-loving and getting into trouble all the time. Quite often with the Quarry bank school authorities, being expelled as a consequence. John, a restless young soul, is living with his strict and buttoned-up aunt Mimi, and the milder and softer uncle George (whom gave John his first instrument, the harmonica). The uncle's sudden heart-attack and death leaves John with the even more strict Mimi. All of a sudden John gets the chance to meet his mother, a redheaded woman from his uncle's burial. It appears that all the years since he was a child, his mother, Julia, has been living within walking distance from her sister Mimi's house.

Most people know the story of the life of Lennon, but this movie is an interesting and well-working portraying of a troubled young man (well, boy) on the look-out for his background. The story is focusing on the relationship between John, Mimi and Julia - especially when the latter 're-enters' her son's life. The lively, vital, music-loving is quite a contrast to her older sister, and she's the one introducing her young son to rock'n'roll, learned him to play the banjo, and gave him his first guitar. 19 year old Aaron Johnson does a tremendous job as Lennon, and makes a colourful character of a troubled, often ill-tempered youngster. With reason, as we get to know his conditions of growing-up. Rebel with a cause, sort of. It's quite exciting to see the young man wanting to start his own band, and the Quarrymen are born. It's quite fun to see he first meeting with Paul McCartney (played by Thomas Sangster, who we saw as the little lovesick drummer-boy Sam in Love Actually a few years ago. Sangster actually plays the guitar, but had to learn to play left-handed for the film), and later on George Harrison. We see the band's getting more serious, as is the situation between Lennon and his two 'mothers', coming to a final ending with Julia's sudden death, when run down by a car.

Nowhere Boy is charming and sentimental, as it of course should be, and is working really well - with a few exceptions. Some parts are a bit straight and simple, too conventional, and the story sometimes jumps forward too quickly. Others are maybe too fictionally made-up (but, hey, everything's allowed - it's a fiction feature after all), but all in all I really enjoyed my time. As a Beatle fan you're just waiting for the Beatles to happen. And, then, the film ends just before Lennon and co take off to Hamburg for the first time. Nowhere Boy is the directorial (feature film) debut of Sam Taylor-Wood, and is based on Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon by his half sister Julia Baird, with a screenplay by Matt Greenhalgh (who also wrote Control - the Ian Curtis and Joy Division film).

Inspired by the film, the day after I bought The Beatles' remastered (stereo) box-set. But that's another story. The world of The Beatles' stereo action!

Copyright © 2009 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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