NOWHERE BOY, 2010
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Thomas Sangster, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey, Sam Bell
A chronicle of John Lennon's childhood.
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Nowhere Boy (dir. Sam Taylor Wood) was first premiered in the 2009 London Film Festival and received great criticism and notice among the people who saw it. Finally released in cinemas nationwide in the UK and to be shown towards American audiences in the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, it offers audiences an honest portrayal of John Lennon before The Beatles.
Based on Julia Bairdís memoir, Private John Lennon, and the screenplay written by Matt Greenhalgh (who wrote 2007ís acclaimed film Control (dir. Anton Corbijn), Nowhere Boy focuses on the teenage years of John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) and how his passion for music started and developed during the following years.
The specific time period of the film is set in post-war Britain in the city of Liverpool, with Lennon growing up with his old-fashioned aunt and being a rebellious teenager when heís introduced to rock ní roll music, especially the music and fashion from Elvis Presley. This is followed with episodes from that point in his life in the next few years, including finding his long-lost mother, forming his first band and developing a friendship with the young Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster).
Although the film showing the story through episodes was done really well, they didnít really connect well with each other and this didnít show the main character developing and learning from the obstacles set before him.
As a biographic film on a famous musician, this doesnít focus on the music side of Lennon as much as I was hoping and this is simply because the story was showing him as a typical, rebellious teenager more than the man he would one day become.
The closest example that resembles with this film is 2005ís Walk the Line (dir. James Mangold) and this is because Walk the Line was focussing on other aspects of Johnny Cashís life when he was growing up, as well as how his music career developed. With these similarities in mind, both films relates to the audience members who will most likely see these films since they show them acting like ordinary people might do. For example, John Lennon and Johnny Cash were portrayed as being very sexually attracted towards girls when they were teenagers, while their similar inspirations for rock ní roll music inspired their careers.
One of the things that have gotten people interested in this film was the first time crew and cast members who were involved and have all done a brilliant job in making the screenplay come to life. But, Iíll focus on the leading actor and the director for this review.
The cast member who did a fantastic job was Aaron Johnson, who played John Lennon. Even though heís appeared in films before, this is his first time in a leading role and unlike most teenagers who appear in leading roles recently, heís the only one who actually does a performance that deserves to be noticed during the up-coming award ceremony. His portrayal as John Lennon is simply great and this is because he made the character face many emotions and confusing situations that most teenagers usually face, showing his love for music as a means of escaping from those troubles and be in peace. I honestly canít wait to see him in the leading role of Kick-Ass (dir. Matthew Vaughn)!
Debut director Sam Taylor Wood is another person who deserves to be mentioned for telling the unknown story of the teenage years of Lennon. Her choice of focussing on the story as episodes on his life was an interesting decision to do and it was still a really interesting focus point, but I was still a bit surprised that she didnít focus on how his love music fit with the people around him. However, she still did a really good job at bringing the story on screen and her debut on a feature film was so good that I am looking forward to her next film.
This was a brilliant way to end the year and the decade with a fine British film and one that proves to be a fine debut from who appears to be a really good director, with a great leading actor who is also set to be interesting to watch. With the award season just around the corner and the film appearing at the Sundance Film Festival, I wouldnít be surprised if it did exceptionally well.