Sunday, September 19, 2010

DVD--Nowhere Boy

or: How John Lennon became John Lennon.

One word to sum it up: Insightful.

Usually, I wouldn't be interested in a biopic on John Lennon. I mean, we learnt a bit about The Beatles in Music class, but I wasn't really that interested. However, I thought Nowhere Boy looked like a good time, as it had been getting some rave reviews. And I guess the fact that Aaron Johnson was in the lead role and had been getting critical applause for it aided in my decision to watch it. John Lennon's story actually looked pretty interesting.

This is the story of a teenage John Lennon (Aaron Johnson), who has been living his life under his strict Aunt Mimi's (Kristin Scott Thomas) care. But Lennon wants to know where his real parents are, and ends up finding his free-wheeling mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), who introduces him to a world of fun and music, much to Aunt Mimi's dismay. Lennon starts up a band called The Quarrymen with a few of his friends, and catches the eye of Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster), who joins the band on their journey to becoming The Beatles.

If you were expecting a real musical insight, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, this film is definitely quite interesting, whether it's about John Lennon or not. It's kind of a funny story, which I really didn't believe was true, let alone believe that it was the early life of one of the world's biggest icons. It sometimes comes across as a pretty standard British biopic, but it has so much elevating it from that kind of status. First is the remarkably artsy direction from first time director Sam Taylor-Wood (who, yes, happens to be 20-year-old Aaron Johnson's 43-year-old fiancee). Then comes the groundbreaking performances from a charming ensemble cast.

Aaron Johnson is perfectly cast as Lennon, and really makes the whole film worthwhile. He has studied every aspect of Lennon's character and is more believable than he should be, considering his two most recognized roles are that of a Sex-God in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and a nerd trying to fight crime in comic book movie Kick-Ass. Nowhere Boy proves that Johnson is much more than his teen-idol status allows him to be, and he will be the next big Oscar winner in the future. He is joined by two well-experienced actresses who give commanding performances. Kristin Scott Thomas is fierce and cold as Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff lights up the screen as Julia. Thomas Sangster, too, in his supporting role as Paul McCartney, makes the most of the opportunity and is well prepared to take on more roles worthy of his talents.

All in all, Nowhere Boy is run by amazing performances and great direction, which the story tends to take a backseat to.

THE VERDICT: Sometimes a little standard, but an inspired performance from Aaron Johnson makes the movie a little more than an insight on a star.


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