Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nowhere Boy

Nowhere Boy is an unnecessary film about a very necessary man.

It’s slow, often boring, and lazy in its rock ‘n’ roll performances.  Which is speaking poorly of a film that chronicles the teenage years of John Lennon.

Now for the good stuff.  The acting is flawless.  Which rests mostly on the shoulders of lead Aaron Johnson, the 20-year-old actor who is leaps and bounds away from his leading role in Kick-Ass earlier this year (was I the only one who didn’t know the kid was a Brit?)

Johnson embodies what we think a young John Lennon would look and act like.  He’s arrogant, pompous, bloody talented and horribly damaged.

His damage mostly lies in the fact that his mentally ill mother (an Oscar-worthy Anne-Marie Duff) left him to be raised by his strict aunt (Kristen Scott Thomas, again proving she’s one of the most talented actress working in film) when he was a child.

John is pissed about it.  And when he reconnects with his mother, their relationship is eccentric yet tender, fun yet troubled.  But, if a movie is described as being about John Lennon, you came for one thing, and that’s the music.

Despite the fact that, during the course of the film, John meets two fellas named Paul and George, don’t expect any Beatles tracks.  We’re too early for that.  Instead we’re privy to a few small shows where a Bud Holly/Elvis Presley-inspired John crones out slight tunes for the ladies.

I say slight because, for some reason, when John starts singing through the mic, it’s as if the sound in the film gets turned down.  I know what 43-year-old director Sam Taylor-Wood is doing here, I think. She’s making the music sound how it did back then.  The crude percussion, the mono tone; I get it.  But it takes away from the film as a whole, which is a subtle way of saying that it isn’t technically well done.

Die hard Lennon fans should enjoy Nowhere Boy.  By no means did I hate it, but it could’ve been more.  Much more. B-

Note: Why did I make a point to say how old the lead actor and director are?  Because they’re engaged, and she’s having their baby in the next few months.  Well played, young man.  Get it.

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