Nowhere Boy: John Lennon's early life - review
The birth of the Beatles - a fabulous film
You don't have to be a fan, or even to know anything about the Beatles, to love this film. I admit that I was prepared to be disappointed but the opposite was the case. To be terribly British for a moment, it's bloody brilliant.
It covers the period between 1955 and 1960 and has everything - wonderful music, incredible acting, a fabulous script and astounding attention to detail.
Four actors stand out above all others. The two lads who play Lennon and McCartney and the women who play the most influential roles in Lennon's early life, his mother and his aunt.
True to life?
No, I don't think it does reflect the family situation completely accurately. I had recently read the book by John Lennon's sister (see below) and I'd heard that originally, the film was largely based on her book. It wasn't as far as I could tell and when I checked the credits, I saw no mention of it.
But that in no way detracts from the movie. I loved the whole thing and especially the small details (Mimi rolling newspaper 'sticks' and brown teapots).
If I had to single out the actor of the whole movie, it would definitely be Aaron Johnson who portrayed Lennon, closely followed by the incredible Kristin Scott Thomas as his middle-class 'guardian' Aunt Mimi. Both were incredible.
The making of Nowhere Boy
The edition we have included a short 'making of' documentary and one aspect shone through. That was that the actors and crew interviewed simply loved making the film and felt that they understood the character they portrayed. Their enthusiasm comes over so well in the finished product -I highly recommend it.
See a sample on this video
When I first wrote this review, this video wasn't available so I included the trailer here. But now I'm so pleased that I can show you this because I think it's one of the finest pieces of acting I've ever seen. Truly.
The scene from the film shows the group making their first demo record. Interestingly, it was written by Paul McCartney and George Harrison (I believe it's the only one that's attributed this way.)
What is truly amazing is how actor Aaron Johnson, playing John, shows a wealth of emotion in such a subtle way. Just in case we the audience don't realise that he is thinking about his mother, Julia, there is a small segment showing the pair of them dancing.
I think too that this has now become my favourite Beatles' song and yet it was unfamiliar to me until I saw the movie.
This is the book that the movie was supposedly based on. I'm not sure. I read this before I saw the film.I'd recommend that you do the same. Julia was in a unique position in the family and I'm rather inclined to believe her version of events rather than that of screenwriter.
I read this prior to seeing the film too - the story of his first wife and her story of those early days.The three, the film, this book and Julia's memories are a perfect package. It's up to the reader / viewer to determine the truth.
The missing facts
What I am about to write detracts in no way from this astoundingly brilliant film - but....
I have found distinct differences between those books and interviews by John's family and close friends (including the Beatles) and those which are sanctioned by Yoko Ono. I feel that I should point these out.
- Julia was not an unfit mother. John lived with her until he was five years old when he was temporarily taken to live with his Aunt Mimi
- Until his mother's death, he visited her and stayed with her regularly
- John was not the 'working class hero' that he was portrayed to be. His aunt brought him up in a comfortable middle-class home and to have no trace of the Liverpool accent
- When John was young, it was quite common for children to be brought up by relatives. The recent war had created many single mothers, thanks to either widowhood or casual wartime affairs
- Although John was undoubtedly traumatised by his mother's death, it must be remembered that Paul McCartney's mother had died equally tragically eighteen months previously. Both named their children (Julian Lennon & Mary McCartney) after their mothers
This film, though brilliant, should not necessarily be seen as the absolute truth. It was endorsed by Yoko.
© 2014 Jackie Jackson