Monday, March 8, 2010

NOWHERE BOY (capsule review)

Based on the memoirs of John Lennon's half-sister, Nowhere Boy is an ambitious, but flawed dramatization detailing the formative years of the legendary singer-songwriter. The film succeeds in pinpointing the lifelong angst Lennon suffered from a dysfunctional childhood, but falls short in miscasting some key characters, starting with the teenage Lennon himself.

Newcomer Aaron Johnson is rarely convincing playing such a complex character. Lennon's angst, insecurity and creative drive feel forced. (Ian Hart nailed it in 1994's Backbeat.) Though the nascent Beatles barely figure in this movie, Thomas Sangster as teenager Paul McCartney is another bad casting choice. True, Sangster delivers a good performance, but he's much smaller and younger-looking than Johnson. Their scenes together are confusing.

Redeeming the film is Kristin Scott Thomas as the stern Aunt Mimi who actually raised John nearly steals the film.  And to be fair, this is Wood's first feature and on the whole it isn't bad. However, she has yet to deliver on the promise of her acclaimed short films.

Already released in the U.K.  North America general release TBA.  Special screening at Toronto's Canadian Music Week  on Saturday, March 13.

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