"Nowhere Boy" DVD, Blu-Ray Movie Review

2/01/2011 Posted by Admin

"Nowhere Boy" DVD, Blu-Ray Movie Review

Directed by Scott Taylor-Wood, Julia Baird and Matt Greenhalgh, 98-minutes, Rated R.

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Before the Beatles, John Lennon was the nowhere boy -- a directionless delinquent undergoing an identity crisis. Lennon was loud, lawless and once he discovered Rock 'n' Roll, unstoppable.

Unfortunately, "Nowhere Boy" doesn't properly portray this side of Lennon. Aaron Johnson plays the young musician as a boisterous young hoodlum, but his director keeps things decidedly low-key. Favoring melodrama and convention over intensity, "Nowhere Boy" is a mediocre biopic that never adequately captures the recklessness of Lennon's early life.

When the film opens, John Lennon is a 17-year-old high school student and like most high school students, he doesn't care much for school. After his mother abandoned him as a child, John went to live with his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas). Mimi’s proper ways don't mesh well with John's criminal behavior, and when he finds out his estranged mother lives around the corner, things get worse.

John's mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) is Mimi's exact opposite. She's highly sexual and obsessed with Rock 'n' Roll. John relates to her carefree lifestyle, and she allows him the freedom to be irresponsible. As John grows more attached to Julia and her music, the rest of his life falls apart.

"Nowhere Boy" is filled with good performances, but its other aspects pull us out of the story. Aaron Johnson makes a good John Lennon -- he's charming, witty and vulnerable. However, Scott Taylor-Wood's directing style contradicts and confines John's attitude. The directing doesn't reflect John's energy--it stifles it in a boring frame.

Part of the problem with the film is the story. It's bland. John Lennon is one of the most influential figures of all time, but watching him meet Paul McCartney or argue with his mother isn’t as exciting as Taylor-Wood hopes. It feels forced, like a necessary chore the film required. Yet, had "Nowhere Boy" been made with Lennon's fervor, his early exploits would appear a lot more exciting and overcome the script’s shortcomings in the process.

John's story is certainly heartbreaking, yet Wood isn't confident in it. The director expects more of Lennon. John Lennon was an outstanding musician, but when he was 17, he acted like a 17-year-old. He broke the rules and argued with his parents, and like Mimi and Julia, Scott Taylor-Wood seems unsure of how to control his unruly child.

Grade: B-

View the trailer for the film below. What are your thoughts?

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