John Lennon’s celluloid imagination

We know who the Beatles were. We know who John Lennon was. But you don’t know how John Lennon became the man we all know him to be.

We know who the Beatles were. We know who John Lennon was. But you don’t know how John Lennon became the man we all know him to be.

“Nowhere Boy” will explain all this, but only as a byproduct of a story relating the sensitive and courageous moments of being a teenager, of a child’s laughter halted and the fragile transition as one comes of age and enters manhood.

Lennon was a rebel even before he discovered rock ‘n’ roll, before greasers packing switchblades starting walking the streets of Liverpool. Constantly in trouble at school and disobeying at home, he was forging his path long before he was a Beatle.

Raised by his aunt and uncle, Lennon never knew he came from a broken home, but as the boy grew older, questions emerged. Where did he come from? Why did he live with his aunt?

Lennon will discover his roots. All his questions are answered, and John learns about his family, and his own childhood—for better and for worse. But from these experiences, Lennon draws much for his character—his humor, his natural ability to perform, his confidence and ability to dream.

Through reconnecting with his birth mother—a relationship that may cause viewers to cock a perplexed eyebrow while considering more than they may want to—he will discover a new, strange-yet-powerful force called rock ‘n’ roll. This influence changed everything for Lennon. From seeing Elvis in a movie theater to running through any rock ‘n’ roll 45 he could get his hands on, Lennon began aspiring to take his place in rock history. At the time, he could never conceive that he would help bring it to new heights.

All Lennon’s trials, rage and influences comprise a dramatic account explaining the kind of life experience that fuels the passions of great artists.

Aaron Johnson takes on the role of Lennon magically—especially knowing he’s the same little twerp who played Kick-Ass, in the movie of the same name. However, Johnson shows real versatility. As Lennon, he takes us through his awakening from boyhood to a young man with grand musical aspirations, all the while dealing with his broken familial trials.

It is perhaps these trials that eventually draw him closer to another significant figure, Paul McCartney, played by Thomas Sangster, who most might recognize as the adorable lovesick kid in “Love Actually.” All grown up now, sort of, Sangster does well planting the seeds that most know will become one of music’s greatest friendships.

This is a story that can be slightly perceived as an origin of the Beatles, but don’t expect a Beatles movie. It is apparent that a notion of the band hangs over the film, and how can it not—it almost teases the audience. Paul and George are introduced, but aside from Paul, who briefly comes into the story from time to time, they remain mostly in the background. This movie is about John, his family and his growth.

If anything, this film may be a nice “prequel” of sorts to “Backbeat,” which very much is a Beatles movie. Hardcore fans of the band will pick up on little hints and references throughout this film, but don’t expect anything strictly Beatles.

One aspect that was fairly notable was the absence of Stuart Stutcliffe, who is for anyone knowledgeable on the background of Lennon and the Beatles, was a rather significant figure in Lennon’s life, and the band’s bass player before Paul took over. One brief mention of Stutcliffe’s name comes at the end of the film, but we never get to meet Lennon’s famous best friend.

This film has come under the radar, but won’t stay there for long. Its impact will travel by word of mouth fairly quickly and don’t be surprised to hear of it come awards season. ?