Biopic captures turbulent youth of a pop genius

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am


Music legend John Lennon has been called a lot of things, including 'hypocrite' and 'phoney'. After watching Sam Taylor-Wood's biopic, Nowhere Boy, you have to add 'human tug-of-war rope' to the list.

In Liverpool, Britain, in the 1950s, the young John (Aaron Johnson) is being raised by Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas). She epitomises the prim and proper lady of the house. Meanwhile, John's biological mother, Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), who's been absent from his life for years, begins to nurture his passion for music.

Both women love him dearly, but their values and circumstances pull him in opposite directions.

What Johnson lacks in physical resemblance to Lennon, he more than makes up for with his acting. (Just for the record, he's more handsome.) Dorky Thomas Brodie Sangster is equally admirable as a young Paul McCartney.

Julia is cast in an unflattering light, so it's not hard for viewers to choose sides and blame her for Lennon's early troubles. In that sense, Nowhere Boy lacks depth. Viewers who know of his early life won't find much that is new as the tension among John, Julia and Aunt Mimi builds to a climax. Yet Nowhere Boy does show us how Lennon overcame family troubles and emotional turbulence to become an iconic musician.

Contains strong language and mature subject matter.