This biopic of John Lennon’s teenage years focuses on the time when he was caught in a tug of war between his mother and the aunt who raised him.
Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood
Nowhere Boy is an “emotionally raw and yet raucous riff on John Lennon’s turbulent teenage years,” said Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. Though the life of the late Beatle has been examined many times, this biopic smartly focuses on a “relatively obscure” period when a 15-year-old Lennon (Aaron Johnson) was caught in a tug of war between the free-spirited mother who had given him up (Anne-Marie Duff) and the stern aunt who raised him (Kristin Scott Thomas). This fractured family dynamic not only complicated Lennon’s emotional life for years but also contributed to his music, said Richard Corliss in Time. Unfortunately, director Sam Taylor-Wood is too inexperienced and her film “too rigid dramatically” to bring this interesting story fully to life. Thomas and Duff “do wonders with the limited psychology of their roles,” said Joshua Rothkopf in Time Out New York. Johnson, too, effortlessly captures Lennon as a young, angst-ridden 1950s rebel. But to get the “complete emotional arc,” you’d be better off revisiting Lennon’s soul-baring songs on “The White Album.”