Movie uncovers Lennon’s life
October 21, 2010
A good movie is like a ninja, and a bad movie is like that toolbag in your history class who answers every question really matter of factly because he’s desperate to show everyone that he’s super cool or smart.
Good movies will distract you with what’s happening on screen, then silently sneak up from behind and plant an idea or emotional stimulus in your brain without you even noticing. With a bad movie, you become painfully aware of how hard it’s trying to make you think that it’s totally awesome, meanwhile you’re praying for time to go a little faster and eyeing up the hottie sitting two seats to your left. This week’s movie fell somewhere in between these two extremes.
“Nowhere Boy” takes on the daunting task of putting part of the life of one of the world’s most iconic rock ’n’ roll figures on the silver screen. The film follows a teenage John Lennon through the parental trials and tribulations he faced while growing up in a suburb of Liverpool in the 40s and 50s.
The focus is on Lennon’s relationship with his aunt Mimi (Kirstin Scott Thomas) and his biological mother (Anne-Marie Duff).
The teenage Lennon is portrayed as the classic “rebel without a cause” type bad boy who steals from record stores, thinks school is for squares and goes around exposing himself to girls (…wait, what?).
The strain of the unanswered questions about his being raised by his aunt instead of his mother comes to a head at the climax of the film, leading to some violin-accompanied, emotional outbursts, regrettable bloody noses and smashed instruments, which are followed by a round of hugs for everyone.
John’s internal reactions to his predicament are presented in the form of some cryptic dream sequences he has throughout the movie. While the film depicts John’s introduction to Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and even the formation of The Beatles first incarnation as “The Quarrymen,” this is definitely not a “Beatles movie.” In fact, the word “Beatles” is never even mentioned, and there isn’t a single Beatles song on the soundtrack. This is one of the handful of good calls that the writers made, as that would undoubtedly have lead to a “rock star” type scenario, which nobody really wants. Much of the first half of the movie feels like it’s spent with the history class kid, as the focus is on John’s bad boy antics, how everybody thinks he’s a good for nothing, and how he really needs to take his future seriously and blah blah blah. But about halfway through, just as you’ve had about enough of the history class kid, the film takes an upturn, and the good movie ninja drops from the ceiling axe-kicks you in the back of the head. The focus shifts to a little bit of a deeper level of emotional strain and the consequences of that strain. Again, this is not a “Beatles” movie. It’s a movie about familial love and what happens when that love that many of us take for granted is suddenly questioned.
Overall, the quality of the acting, writing, direction and whole production of the thing is maybe a step above something you might see on the Hallmark Channel.
Was it among the better movies I’ve ever seen? Not really.
Did it make me want to start a rock ‘n’ roll band?
Anthony Orlando is a math major and physics minor. He runs for the UW-River Falls cross country team. He once met Dan Auerbach and is a minor celebrity in Malaysia.