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Sunday, May 23, 2010

SIFF Sighting: NOWHERE BOY (drama; United Kingdom)

The life of John Lennon has been explored many times in various films and books, but seldom has the focus been on his pre-Beatle years in Liverpool, when he was simply the difficult nephew of Mimi Smith. Nowhere Boy spotlights these formative years, zeroing in on the months when Lennon reconnected with his mother Julia, who lived nearby.

In Sam Taylor-Wood's feature debut, we witness the fragile relationships that existed within the family through Aaron Johnson's impressive portrayal of John, and a predictably solid performance from Kristin Scott Thomas as Aunt Mimi. What's disappointing is the one-dimensional take screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh offers of the family: John is troubled, Mimi is stern, Julia is flighty. While all of those characteristics may have been true, each person deserved to echo more complexity, and Paul McCartney deserved to be played by someone more believable than the youthful Thomas Sangster, who most will remember as the kid from Love Actually.

Nowhere Boy screened at the 36th annual Seattle International Film Festival.

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