It is intriguing to observe the growth of a young person into a personality. How and why we become who we are, has never easy answers. Nowhere Boy wisely avoids asking such questions, especially given that it deals with a persona that is John Lennon. The film rather focuses on staging a critical time in Lennon’s life – his mid teens, a time of great changes, when the boy becomes a man. It is a hard film to rate, as on some levels it deserves the highest mark – the acting is superb, with Aaron Johnson as the young Lennon, really catching the essence of the character: rebellious and angry for the most part, yet sensitive and yearning to be loved and accepted. But some parts are paced incorrectly, and are touched, on occasion, by melodrama.
Focusing on the parts I loved in this film – the portrayal of the complex relationships in young Lennon’s life, the acting, including by John’s two moms, played wonderfully by Anne-Marie Duff and Kristin Scott Thomas, and the well-captured sense of what made Lennon and McCartney, so different personalities, connect, to create one of the best musical collaborations ever. I also appreciated the music, which was not heavily-handed in terms of using Beatles songs, but rather remained original, with only appropriate hints to the band’s future themes. As a Beatles and John Lennon fan I am very pleased with the film, yet as a film, its unevenness lends it a lower grade than what it could have earned. Still, it’s a film I recommend.