Nowhere Boy

Being a huge Beatles’ fan, I stumbled on to a movie released in 2009 called “Nowhere Boy” after the John Lennon penned song “Nowhere Man.” The movie takes us through the troubled life of the teenage John just as he is about to launch a musical career. It should be noted this career seemed very unlikely at the start of the movie.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson does an admirable job as the troubled Lennon who was not the best of students, while he dealt with his Uncle George’s death and the reemergence of his mother Julia into his life. Two women, though, play a vital role in his life – his aunt Mimi (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) who raised him with George (played by David Threlfall) in her sister’s absence and his mother played by Anne-Marie Duff.

The story focuses mainly on these two sisters and John. Whether the movie tells the story 100% correctly, it does impart the needed theme his mother was not around for long stretches and his father was nowhere to be seen. When Julia got back together with him, it was more like she was a big sister than a mother aiding his truancy and rebellious tendencies. But, she also taught him about Rock-n-Roll and how to play the banjo, which he jumped at. Apparently, she was gifted and could pick up playing pretty quickly, a trait he seemed to have as well.

Mimi was the sober mother figure doing her best. She came across as not endearing, but John realized eventually how important she was in his life seeing his mother being less responsible. Mimi would buy him his first (and second) guitars, but she also sold the first one when he had failing grades. That made him none too happy, especially when his group The Quarrymen” had a gig that night. And, while Julia loved Rock-n-Roll, Mimi would prefer Tchaikovsky as listening music.

A young Paul McCartney is played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster. George Harrison (played by Sam Bell) makes a brief entrance, but for this movie he is put in the background. Josh Bolt plays a band member and friend Pete and Olivia Lovibond plays Marie, an earlier love interest. David Morrissey plays a key role as Julia’s boyfriend and father to John’s stepsisters. The movie is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and was written by Julia Baird and Matt Greenhaight. It should be noted Julia Baird is John’s youngest half-sister.

The movie is worth the watch whether you are Beatles’ fan or not. Rotten Tomatoes gives in an 80, e.g. It is easy to see why Lennon had a constant chip on his shoulder as a youth and how he had to become a better person to harness his talent. And, per the movie his observation to Mimi that you and Julia are still sisters, is a key point in his and their relationship.

23 thoughts on “Nowhere Boy

  1. An enjoyable movie, particularly so if you’re a big Beatles fan and are interested in band members’ early days. And it should prompt a revisit of Lennon’s song ‘Julia’ after watching it.

    • Clive, I had a feeling you might have seen this. I agree on revisiting “Julia.” They did play Lennon’s “Mother” as the film ended. Keith

      • It was a while ago, and your post has just prompted me to buy it for my iTunes library, as it was only £2.99! I remember the ‘Mother’ outro – that has always seemed a painful song to me, which is probably why the Beatles did ‘Julia’ and left ‘Mother’ to John for a solo album…

      • Likely true. Or, maybe he had more time to reflect. The way Julia was portrayed in the movie, I wonder if she had some bipolar tendencies. In the movie based on her daughter’s screenplay, she was effervescent at times and somber at others. Keith

  2. Would be worth a watch to learn something about John Lennon’s early life. It might explain the abrasive side of his character which did cause his star to fade in some circles.
    One day someone is going to take on the task of John and Yoko as a film.

    • Roger, he once told the great songwriter Carole King his caustic side was a defense mechanism. Apparently, she reminded him later he was a tad sarcastic the first time they met, but he said he was intimidated by her talent. I thought that was interesting. That John and Yoko film would be excellent if they did it right. Keith

      • That would dovetail with the documentary by Ron Howards ‘The Beatles: Eight Days A Week’ which covered the years 1962-1966 and was a clear presentation of the most peculiar world they were pitched into.
        Those early years they were meeting folk they thought as legendary; the whole experience is bound to challenge you.

  3. Note to Readers: The lyrics to “Nowhere man” are profound as are a number of Lennon led songs. Here are the first two stanzas:

    “He’s a real nowhere man
    Sitting in his nowhere land
    Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
    Doesn’t have a point of view
    Knows not where he’s going to
    Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
    Nowhere man please listen
    You don’t know what you’re missing
    Nowhere man, the world is at your command”

  4. Never heard of this movie, I will have to see if I can find it streaming. I was also a huge Beatles fan and John was an absolute inspiration to me. Thanks for the review!

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