The emotional turmoil you experience throughout Nowhere Boy, watching the tragic and self-affirming life of a young man destined to be one of the most famous human beings to ever live, is remarkable. Nowhere Boy serves as the origin story for the leader of The Beatles, John Lennon. Unlike every other cinematic biopic out in the world, this particular film surpasses all expectations.
Most people like The Beatles. Even if you run into those rare folks who think they are terrible, they often have at least one or two songs they believe to be exceptional. The Beatles as a whole was a group made out of musical geniuses as they essentially came to define rock ‘n roll. Yet what led up to the formation of one of the greatest musical teams, folks tend to ignore. As with any celebrity, we tend to see them in a certain way, thinking of them as larger than life individuals who are only what we see of them, albeit on the stage or the silver screen. The truth of the matter lies in how below the surface, everyone has a story, everyone has tragedy, and everyone has “stuff” in their lives.
Nowhere Boy serves as an incredibly poignant view on John Lennon’s early life, as we watch from his childhood thru this teenage years. I’m not one who knows a great deal about the rock star before he became THE John Lennon we all know, but he’s portrayed as being a smart-ass jerk; A regular ladies man and not at all concerned with getting into trouble, throwing caution to the wind whenever possible. Aaron Johnson, the lead actor in Kick-Ass, gives a stellar performance. His emotional depth is so profound that I found myself transfixed on him whenever he was on screen. Johnson brings forth a rare sort dynamism rarely seen; he’s a marvelous actor and his future as such will, hopefully, continue for many more years.
Fascinating, as was John Lennon’s life, especially as portrayed by Johnson, the events that led the singer to meet his companion Paul McCartney are unique and brilliant. Granted, the other two Beatles, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were/are equally important in their own right, but the friendship of Lennon and McCartney remains as something else entirely. From the first time they met, to what ultimately cements their bond, the story of these influential kids is remarkably exceptional. Thomas Sangster, another young actor who has been in a substantial amount of films considering his young age, along with a few episodes of Doctor Who, captures the mental image we have of Paul McCartney and bends it to his whim, acting the hell out of the role.
One of the film’s superlative aspects lies not only in the cinematography, but how it’s shot. Director Sam Taylor-Wood is somewhat new to the directing world; this has not prevented her from getting the job accomplished. She gives Johnson an almost seductive quality about him, as at moments he looks not only peaceful, but also beautiful. I imagine this is because the two are going to be having a child together. Not to get into celebrity gossip, but yes, she is in her forties, while Aaron Johnson is about twenty; they are getting married.
Nowhere Boy acts as a game-changer for the genre as a whole. After Jamie Fox in Ray, we were assaulted by biopics about drug-abusing stars and all these movies began feeling the same. Here is a movie that should restore the significance in telling the story of a person. Ultimately, despite how we might see these legends, they are people like you and me and just like you and me they too have fascinating tales. If these stories are told correctly, then you’re left with one hell of an exceptionally gorgeous film.