Monday, 31 January 2011
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff
By Alan Bacchus
The title of this film of John Lennon's youth and his founding of the Beatles is an appropriate play on words. One: Lennon-McCartney song "Nowhere Man", but more importantly, it's a reference to the displaced youth that fuelled his early artistic endeavours.
The latter serves as the predominant theme of the picture. Out of the pain of Lennon's abandonment by his mother and the strict guardianship of his auntie arose the brooding heart and soul of the John Lennon we know today. The relationship with his birth mother, who only enters his life when his cherished uncle dies suddenly, is complex and fascinating. She's characterized as a flighty bird, a day late and dollar short.
Other than the maternal relation, Lennon connects with his mum's artistic side, in particular her skill with the bango. But being in between the pragmatic, yet harsh, care of his aunt and seemingly free-spirited mother brings to the surface the family baggage, which for years has been swept under the carpet.
Newbie director Sam Taylor-Wood avoids the stodginess and hopscotch effect of these types of bio-pics with a robust directorial style, flourishes that include sumptuous anamorphic cinematography and vibrant colours that pop out of the frame.
Nowhere Boy is more angst and pain than skiffle and screaming girls. And the film is much better for it. Backbeat this is not; instead, it's a movie as complex and creative as the artist it portrays.