8.5 out of 10
Release Date: 1st January 2010
Director: Sam Taylor-Wood (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ophelia Lovibond with David Threlfall and David Morrissey
Writer: Matt Greenhalgh
Trailer: NOWHERE BOY
Sam Taylor-Wood‘s directorial debut is an unfussy yet fully successful go at shedding some light on John Lennon‘s (AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON – KICK ASS) pre-Beatle years. The story arc concentrates on Lennon’s relationship with his Aunt Mimi (KRISTIN SCOTT-THOMAS – BEL AMI) who brought him up from a boy in the absence of his less capable mother, Julia (ANNE-MARIE DUFF – THE MAGDALENE SISTERS). We pick up with Lennon around the time he relocates his mother and begins to secretly spend time with her without his disapproving aunt’s knowledge. It’s also around the same time that he begins to get good at the guitar and sets up his first few bands. He also meets Paul McCartney (THOMAS BRODIE-SANGSTER – LOVE ACTUALLY) and later George Harrison. The troubled releationship between the tow sisters, with Lennon struggling to find his place takes up most of the film and because of the performances and a shining script this proves to be a winning idea.
The film could have chosen to be arty with abstract visuals like so many period biopics – example Basquiat or Love is The Devil. Beyond some well lensed shots of the surf rolling in at Blackpool to prompt Lennon’s flashbacks to early childhood, such flourishes are kept to the minimum. Why add trickery when you have three storming central performances. Kristin Scott-Thomas can do this type of role standing on her head juggling oranges but she is far from coasting, she is perfectly cast as Mimi, operating at the height of her talents. She is matched equally by the young Aaron Taylor-Johnson– Sam Taylor-Wood‘s real life husband — who pulls off a fair Liverpudlian accent for a non-native. Yet it’s Anne Marie Duff who captures our hearts as the love-lorn yet throughly sad Julia. Its her utter contrast to the buttoned down prim and proper, yet also loving Mimi. How much of Nowhere Boy is based on actual fact can be debated but as a film about an icon’s early years it gets the job done and gives us the right amount of flavour. Subtle references of the fame to come litter the shots and you can have fun spotting them (I won’t give you any clues). Surprisingly, there are no actual songs by The Beatles in the film beyond the open guitar twang from “Can’t Buy Me Love”. The attention to period detail is second to none as well, only the lack of authentic Liverpudlian accents break the illusion. It’s a particularly hard accent to crack if you’re not from the area. Aaron Taylor- Johnson has proved since that he is a talented actor. His portrayal of Vronsky in the recent Anna Karenina concretes what we see here in Nowhere Boy. Only sh*t like Chatroom and Oliver Stone’s very boring Savages (2012) have blotted his copy book so far. Kick Ass 2 next!
8.5 out of 10 – Very accomplished biopic that knows it’s strengths and sticks to them. Namely a film that falls or stands on it’s performances, this boasts an awesome cast. Perfect period detail, an unsure grasp on fact don’t impede this films emotional power. Recommended whole heartedly.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Avenger’s Assemble 2, Fifty Shades of Grey, Godzilla (2014), Kick Ass 2, Albert Nobbs, Savages (2012), Anna Karenina (2012), Kick Ass, Chatroom
- Kristin Scott-Thomas: Suite Francaise, My Old Lady, The Invisible Woman, Only God Forgives, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, Bel Ami, The Woman In The Fifth, Sarah’s Key, Love Crime, Leaving, Confessions Of a Shopaholic, Largo Winch, easy Virtue, The Other Boleyn Girl, I’ve Love You So Long, The Golden Compass (voice), The Walker, Keeping Mum, Chromophobia, Code 46, Gosford Park, Up At The Villa, Random Hearts, The horse Whisperer, The English Patient, Mission Impossible, Angels & Insects, Richard III (1995), Le Confessional, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bitter Moon, Autobus, A Handful Of Dust
- Anne-Marie Duff: Suffragette, Before I Go To Sleep, Closed Circuit, Shameless (TV), Is Anybody There?, The Waiting Room, Notes On a Scandal, Enigma,The Magdalene Sisters
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster: Maze Runner 2, Maze Runner, Albatross, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually
- Ophelia Lovibond: Man Up, 8 Minutes Idle, Guardians of the Galaxy, Turnout, Mr Popper’s Penguins, London Boulevard, Chatroom, 4-3-2-1
- David Threlfall: Black Sea, Shameless (TV), Like Minds, Elizabeth I – The Golden Age, Hot Fuzz, Master and Commander – The Far Side Of The World, Alien Autopsy, Patriot Games,
- David Morrissey: The Ones Below, The Walking Dead (TV), Welcome To The Punch, Blitz, Centurion, Is Anybody There?, The Reaping, The Other Boleyn Girl, Derailed, Basic Instinct 2, Hilary & Jackie, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Born Romantic, Some Voices, Fanny & Elvis, Waterland, Drowning By Numbers,