Beatle Weekend, Part Two…
Finally got the chance to see Nowhere Boy this weekend, and despite my trepidations I was pretty impressed overall. I wasn’t sure what to expect, thinking perhaps a Backbeat story arc, but I liked it. On one hand it was the story of John Lennon leading up to Hamburg, but it was also one of the oddest love triangles in film history. Kudos to both Kristin Scott Thomas as Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff as Julia, Lennon’s aunt and mother respectively…and inversely, of course.
At first glance Thomas’ Mimi is impossibly prim and tight, while Duff’s Julia is wild and flirtatious, almost carnal; both characters are caricatures rather than people. But as the film develops, both move towards the center, eventually connecting before fate steps in to deal a bad hand. Likewise, Lennon is shown as a polarized youth, pulled between a wild streak and a crippling need for affection, but he too learns to balance both sides into a confident approach…the Lennon we would soon come to know. The film was nominated for four BAFTAs and won one (Duff as Julia).
Trailer: Nowhere Boy
Aaron Johnson gets credit for inhabiting the persona rather than aping it; his inner conflicts are as visible as his facade. There are several pivotal moments in the story, of course, and director Sam Taylor-Wood makes sure they’re driven home, but the film’s best moment is understated.
John first meets a young Paul McCartney in a bathroom doubling as a dressing room for a small park concert. Like gunslingers, they stand face to face, and as John draws his wit and leverage, Paul fires back by riffing a flawless intro to “Twenty Flight Rock“. Johnson, as Lennon, doesn’t say a word, but we see him realize that he brought a knife to the gunfight.
The humility, and the language of music, would open a door that would change their lives forever, and ours as well. And here’s the song that brings it all home…
Video: “In Spite of all The Danger”