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Nowhere Boy Review


RATING:
(2 STARS)

Nowhere Boy is about as unremarkable as films get. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it; It’s just entirely forgettable. Take away the lead character’s name, and this wouldn’t be a story worthy of the cinema. Even Beatles aficionados would likely agree that their hero’s, John Lennon’s, personal history has to be more intriguing than what director Sam Taylor-Wood has presented here. Excepting a pair of good performances by the two most important women in Lennon’s life, Nowhere Boy is a major letdown.

Growing up in Liverpool, John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) was a bad boy from the beginning. He was regularly suspended from school, and he gave his Aunt Mimi (Kristen-Scott Thomas) a very hard time. She dealt with it the best way she knew how—through only the strictest discipline—but Lennon’s other parental figure, his mother (Anne-Marie Duff), who until recently wasn’t a part of his life, is a rock-and-roll woman at heart. So John adopts a new Elvis-centric style and philosophy, and soon, he has left school and started a band with his closest mates—one of whom is a young boy named Paul (Thomas Brodie-Sangster).

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a film about the beginning of the Beatles to feature some decent music—maybe an homage or two to the future hits these character would create. But every time I thought the film would transition into something a little more musical, some dreary melodramatic scenes followed. Just take every cliché from a dysfunctional family film, throw in a couple musician biopic clichés, and you’ve got Nowhere Boy. Sounds fun, right?

Despite its problems, I did appreciate the work of Kristen Scott-Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff. The former is a picture of support and stability. She’s like the uber-strict teacher everyone has had: She drives you crazy while you’re in her class, but once you’re out, you can appreciate the lessons she’s taught you. Anne-Marie Duff, on the other hand, is vivacious. She lights up the screen whenever she’s on it, and though she appears shallow throughout most of the film, her arc is ultimately rewarding.

The other performance worthy of discussion is Aaron Johnson’s, though not for the right reasons. He’s OK, but too often, his performance feels more like a John Lennon impersonation. The voice and attitude don’t feel authentic. It’s just not as captivating as it needs to be, especially considering the narrative deficiencies of the film.

There’s not much else to say about Nowhere Boy (and I’ll spare you any “Nowhere Boy goes nowhere” puns). Many seem to have enjoyed it, but not me. It’s just a movie that did very little for me, and I’ll likely forget about it not long after I publish this review.

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