Sam Taylor-Wood undertakes the daunting task of capturing the formative teenage years of the legendary John Lennon in her feature-film directorial debut, Nowhere Boy. Without the slightest mention of The Beatles, Taylor-Wood focuses on the man behind the music, depicting Lennon just shy of 18. The film stars up and coming British actor Aaron Johnson, followed closely by Kristin Scott Thomas and Ann-Marie Duff. The film is set for a limited release nationwide this Friday.

Check out the review below…

The Players:

  • Director: Sam Taylor-Wood
  • Writer: Matt Greenhalgh
  • Cast: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ann Marie Duff
  • Cinematography By: Seamus McGarvey
  • Producers: Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae

The Plot:

The film opens in 1955, Liverpool.  It chronicles Lennon’s childhood, highlighting the events and personal circumstances that led to the formation of The Beatles – specifically the tumultuous family currents that inspired and shaped his creativity.

The Good:

  • Insight: Lennon fans will appreciate the authenticity of this film (endorsed by heavy research and those who knew him personally).
  • Mimi/Julia/John Relationship: We learn that Lennon’s rigid Aunt Mimi (Scott-Thomas) raised him because his mother Julia (Duff), was deemed too unstable. When his Uncle George dies, John is suddenly inspired to reconnect with his estranged mother – a free spirited, vivacious woman who, despite her absence for most of his life, loves him deeply. In Lennon’s adult life he referenced his slightly erotic relationship with Julia which is portrayed quite palpably through fleeting but powerful exchanges and interactions between the two. This inevitably creates a turbulent, but fascinating love triangle that allegedly fueled much of his creative work.
  • Aaron Johnson: Aside from bearing a striking resemblance to young Lennon, Aaron Johnson brought a certain charisma and swagger to the role, really capturing the spirit of this self-professed “creative genius.”
  • Scott-Thomas/Duff: Both women give incredibly detailed and moving performances. I smell Oscar nods.

The Partially Bad:

  • Authenticity: Maintaining a sense of authenticity brings a striking level of truth to any picture – which is lovely, really. But Nowhere Boy portrays Lennon as a brazen, scatter-brained, and deeply arrogant young man. He’s rebellious in a way that’s far from endearing or admirable – in short, he’s kind of a jack ass. We also see that he fell into music for less than commendable reasons: he was fixated with Elvis because he was a heart throb, and decided he needed to explore rock n’ roll to get chicks. His Aunt Julia then, taught him guitar while he was suspended from school for reading porn and skipping class to canoodle with a classmate in the woods. When he eventually meets young McCartney, he admits that he doesn’t peg the guy for a rock n’ roller because he’s slightly nerdy. McCartney simply states that for him, it’s about the music and only the music. This is visibly baffling for Lennon. Which, sadly, leaves the audience slightly disillusioned with his character. Hooray for authenticity, but I found myself far more interested in McCartney than Lennon, because for him – it was about music from day one.


Who isn’t fascinated by the “path” or turn of events that inspires a great artist? Answer: nobody. So in that regard, the film is both interesting and insightful.

Rating: 7/10

Nowhere Boy opens in limited release on October 8th.

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Will You be seeing Nowhere Boy this weekend?