Lacking the song's raw emotive power, Taylor-Wood's debut feature is a rote coming-of-age tableau that churns through stations of anger, inspiration, reconciliation, McCartney, and Harrison.
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Like Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There"-which never once came out and said the name "Bob Dylan"-Nowhere Boy bites its tongue and refuses to say "The Beatles."
If only the script had been content to stick with its let's-start-a-band verve. Like many a musical biopic, Nowhere Boy wants to explain away the man (as if a song like "In My Life" weren't explanation enough).
It's a tender, but sometimes untended, portrait of the artist as a young man-and occasionally as a young asshole-that's handsome, dutiful, and finally, a little dull.
A respectable but surprisingly conventional feature-debut effort from Brit artist-turned-helmer Sam Taylor-Wood.
Although this is a film about the influential women in Lennon's life, it succeeds equally in its evocation of the family Lennon built among his boyhood mates.
By the end of Nowhere Boy, you'll feel you know John Lennon better than you ever did.
Johnson doesn't resemble, much less embody, Lennon, but he does catch his distinctive glint of mischief tinged with pain. Duff and Scott Thomas are both exceptional, revealing how John's relationship with these two clashing sisters marked his character.
Strong performances by Kristin Scott Thomas as the stern Aunt Mimi, who raised the future Beatle from the age of 5, and Anne-Marie Duff as his troubled mother heighten the dramatic appeal of what otherwise is quite a dull film.