After making the festival circuit rounds, director Sam Taylor Wood's heavily-anticipated
John Lennon biopic is beginning its limited release run in U.S. theaters. Timed to coincide with the would-be 70th
birthday of the iconic musician, the film chronicles the arrogance,
genius and wrenching heartbreak of the aspiring artist as teenager—and
also manages to introduce audiences to two other lads named Paul and
George. While the film's hinted at "freudian love triangle"
raised the eyebrows of some reviewers, most critics saw the film as a
solidly crafted, even downright traditional, pre-Beatles depiction.
- It's A 'Tug-of-Love Melodrama' with young Lennon mostly bouncing between his aunt and mother as guardians, writes Ian Freer
at Empire. Aaron Johnson's performance makes the film: "His Lennon is
by turns feral, vulnerable, quick-witted and callow, never able to grasp
the depths of love both women hold for him. Next year’s Kick-Ass may
make Johnson a star, but Nowhere Boy feels like we are glimpsing a major
talent in waiting. Which is pretty apt, really."
Peppered With Hints of the Future "When those hints arrive—John doodling
walruses in class, or being called a loser by a wary lust object—the
frisson makes you smile," notes Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf,
who enjoyed the "romanticized evocation of the 1950s adolescence" in
the film. Only one problem: "If only the script had been content to
stick with its let's-start-a-band verve. Like many a musical biopic,
Nowhere Boy wants to explain away the man (as if a song like 'In My
Life' weren’t explanation enough)."
- A 'Confident' Portrait of the 'Lairy, Mouthy' Teenaged Lennon The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw
recommends the film in this manner: "Perhaps Taylor Wood's wittiest
touch is to begin her film with the first, jangling chord from A Hard
Day's Night, which is simply allowed to hang there unresolved in the
silence – a weirdly atonal effect, replacing the song's happy
connotations with something more disturbing: a harbinger of something
- If He Seems 'Like An Arrogant Little Shit' Well, it's
because "the filmmakers have based that characterization largely on
Lennon's own reflections, particularly in post-Beatles interviews,"
observes Salon's Andrew O'Hehir.
"More broadly, this Lennon is an almost archetypal angry young man or
rebel schoolboy of British Isles fiction and drama, a Liverpool cousin
of Stephen Dedalus, dreaming of escape from his strangled, provincial
- Ringo Always Gets Shafted in Beatles film adaptations, writes Leslie Felperin
at Variety. "Poor Ringo Starr has yet to be repped onscreen in a
Beatles drama, having no place in this story's timeframe or in the
underrated 1994 "Backbeat" (which covered the Hamburg years). Nor does
Starr appear in 1991's "The Hours and Times," the 1963-set two-hander
about Lennon and Brian Epstein, in which native Liverpudlian Ian Hart
definitively incarnated Lennon onscreen as he did in 'Backbeat.'"
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