Friday, October 15, 2010


Written by Matt Greenhalg
Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood
Starring Aaron Johnson, Kristen Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff

John: Why couldn't God make me Elvis?
Julia: Because God was saving you for John Lennon.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of Sam Taylor-Wood’s art firsthand in exhibition. It was stark, cold but yet still emotional and affecting. It was both sad and sexual, making for a challenging experience, to say the least. Still, it was an experience I’m glad I had and one that I am also glad to say, has effectively translated to film in Taylor-Wood’s first feature, NOWHERE BOY. The images here may be moving in comparison but are just as rich with depth and pain.

This is a story of a young boy in Liverpool, whom you might know as John Lennon. Unless you know Lennon’s history well though, you will not know this story. The film opens with a dream and that classically unmistakable opening chord from The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” rings in the image. That is the last you will hear of anything The Beatles ever sang or recorded for the rest of the film though. This is not that story, not exactly. This story is about a boy, played with surprising charm and strength by relative unknown, Aaron Johnson (KICK-ASS). This boy wants to put a band together but it proves to be tricky when he is caught between the affections of the aunt who raised him his whole life (Kristen Scott Thomas) and his unstable mother (Anne-Marie Duff) with whom he has just reunited. His name just happens to be Lennon and the band he throws together in a bathroom just happens to be one of the most influential of all time.

We all come from somewhere and if we happen to have been blessed with a little talent or a little genius, then the odds are that the somewhere we came from may not have been so simple a place. Taylor-Wood shows us Lennon’s somewhere and allows us to draw our own conclusions about what made the man that would become a legend rather than do all the drawing for us. There was nothing simple about Lennon’s upbringing. He was kept in the dark until he was an adult and by then, the damage had been done. Fortunately for him and for his fans the world over, that damage became great music.

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