Nowhere Boy (15)

Directed by Sam Taylor Wood
Written by Julia Baird and Matt Greenhalgh
Screening at FACT from 26th December 2009

Reviewed by Nadia Baha

I am biased. I have loved The Beatles since I was ten. There will always be my favourite band. They are the reason I came to Liverpool. They changed my life.

I love this film. It doesn’t show Beatle John, it is the story about a boy growing up in post-war Liverpool. The father is “all at sea” and the mother “gives” her son to her sister, who later came to be world-famous Aunt Mimi.When I read all the books about The Beatles I always wondered why John Lennon’s mother would let her sister raise her boy but apparently this wasn’t unusual in Liverpool at that time. You had a quite well off relative? You had a few children? You “gave” a child to your wealthy family member. So people told me who have been around at that time. The film, however, suggested that Julia, John Lennon’s mother, had a mental illness which prevented her from giving John the upbringing he needed.

His family decided over him, no one asked him, what he needed or wanted. The only time anyone asked him in the film was when his father asked the five year old if he wanted to stay with his mum or his dad. This is a true story and not part of a screenplay writer’s ideas. It really happened.

All the incidents and events in the film are, as far as I know, taken from John Lennon’s life and are not fiction. Director Sam Taylor Wood, a visual artist, obviously did lots of research. Even if you didn’t know she was a visual artist, you could have guessed easily.

Part of what makes the film so beautiful is the powerful imagery. John smoking, John lying in the grass, John on the deck of a bus.

The other part is the dialogue. It is the little sentences that make you think.. Some are just witty, some poetry and underline Lennon’s personality. When John says “ So you will be a biochemist when you grow up? You must be so excited!”, you laugh. You laugh because you feel that John really could have said that.

One of my favourite dialogues is when John talks to his mother:

“Why didn’t God make me Elvis?”

“Because he waited for you to be John Lennon.”

I am biased. I love this film. But I’m not the only one.

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