This movie is one of my absolute favourites, but I have to confess that I wanted to hate it. I wanted to watch it and scoff at how bad it was. Why? Because I can’t stand Beatles cover bands, especially those that also dress up like them. I get that they’re going for the whole “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” thing, but why watch them when you can watch the originals? Anyway, that was pretty much my reasoning for wanting to hate this movie. In fact, for a while I tossed up not even seeing it. Oh, how I’ve changed my mind…“Why couldn’t God make me Elvis?” “’Cause he was saving you for John Lennon” Named for The Beatles song Nowhere Man; Nowhere Boy is an exploration of John Lennon’s traumatic teenage years as he deals with the loss of his beloved uncle George and seeks the love of his mother Julia, rebelling against his unaffectionate aunt Mimi. However, it is not long before he loses his mother too. It also shows how John found his love for Rock and Roll and charts the birth of The Quarrymen, later to become the famous Beatles. There are so many things that I love about this movie. So many things. I love the way there are links in there for Beatles fans (unless of course I’m imagining them?). For example; we see John cycle past Strawberry Fields (yes that is a real place) and get turned away from The Cavern Club – the ‘home’ of The Beatles. The opening scenes of the film also mirror those of A Hard Day’s Night. However, I have to be a bit picky and say that I’m not sure teenage pre-Beatle John would have gone to The Cavern, because as far as I am aware it was a jazz club then, not a ‘club’ club. Add to this that in the movie John states that jazz is shit and you can see why I’m having trouble believing that particular scene. Nevertheless it was a sweet touch. I love the way John’s cheeky humour is portrayed. Believe me I’ve watched enough Beatles clips on youtube to know they all had a wicked sense of humour. However, it was John’s cutting wit that always impressed me and that comes across wonderfully in this film. For example – in reply to a comment by the headmaster that he was going nowhere John simply says: “Is nowhere full of geniuses sir? ‘Cause then I’d probably do well…” Love. Love. Love. (You may sing that if you wish). That may be my favourite line in the whole movie. “Everything seems better in the sunshine…” I love the use of light and colour. I always talk about colour because I think there are so many ways colours can represent emotions or personalities. I love the contrast between the dark, rich wood tones of the school and Mimi’s house and the sunlight, blue skies and vibrant green grass of the ‘in-between’ areas where John finds freedom from the stifling rules that control his life. I love the use of red to represent Julia’s vivacious spirit; this is also a major contrast to the dull tones of Mimi’s wardrobe and home. Similarly, I thought it was rather poignant that the sunlight fades as Julia dies. I love the subtlety. Having read a lot of books about The Beatles (although I still have many more to go) there are so many little subtle references I picked up while watching this which I am sure normal, non-obsessed people would have missed. Or it could just be my imagination. Anyway, let me enlighten you. In some of the first scenes we are shown the bond between John and his uncle, who was in fact John’s only real father figure. Their close and affectionate relationship appears to elicit sparks of jealousy from the austere Aunt Mimi. There are also hints towards Mimi’s affair with lodger Mr Fishwick; in many scenes there are certain ‘glances’ exchanged. I love the actors. Well, mostly. Aaron Johnson is the perfect John. I thought I’d show some pictures for comparison:
See what I mean? Plus Aaron Johnson is a real hottie. Personally, I think he’s more attractive with the quiff and tight T-shirts under leather jackets, but I also have a soft spot for him in his cardigans and vests. What can I say? I think men dressed better back then…that is before the 70’s. We don’t talk about the 70’s. He also does a fantastic job singing like John – I was almost fooled at the end with his rendition of Mother. There are not many people who can replicate John Lennon’s amazing voice. As I side note, I’d like to mention that Johnson would be the perfect Wolfboy if there was a movie of This Is Shyness, but he would have to don the checked shirt and style his quiff again for that to work. Likewise, Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff are perfectly cast. The difficult task of playing the formidable Mimi is handled perfectly by Scott Thomas. However, I think Duff outshines her with a very realistic portrayal of the troubled Julia. I did however have some problems with the cast; namely Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Sam Bell as Paul and George respectively. I just cannot see the resemblance to the real Paul and George at that age. Especially with Paul. And you all know how much of a Paul McCartney connoisseur I am. Or perhaps I’m being too picky? Anyway,I have to admit that performance-wise they both exceeded all my expectations.
I love the costumes. I absolutely adore Julia’s wardrobe. It’s full of halter-neck dresses with gorgeous skirts and a particularly lovely red coat which I am desperately craving.
And lastly, I love, love, love the soundtrack. This music seems to speak to my soul. This music makes me want to live in the 50’s. The movie explores the birth of The Beatles and the soundtrack compliments this wonderfully, exploring the roots of their musical sound. If you’re interested you can check out this youtube playlist.