British release poster
|Directed by||Sam Taylor-Wood|
|Produced by||Robert Bernstein
|Screenplay by||Matt Greenhalgh|
|Based on||Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon
by Julia Baird
Kristin Scott Thomas
|Music by||Alison Goldfrapp
|Editing by||Lisa Gunning|
UK Film Council
|Distributed by||Icon Entertainment International (UK/AUS)
The Weinstein Company
|Running time||99 minutes|
Nowhere Boy is a 2009 British biopic about John Lennon's adolescence, his relationships with his guardian aunt and his mother, the creation of his first band, The Quarrymen, and its evolution into The Beatles. The film is based on a biography written by Lennon's half-sister Julia Baird. The film received its US release on 8 October 2010, coinciding with that weekend's celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Lennon's birth (9 October 1940).
The drama tells the story of John Lennon's (Aaron Johnson) teenage years from 1955–1960.
John Lennon, having been separated from his mother when he was five, learns that his mother attended the funeral of his late Uncle George. Lennon becomes curious and searches for his mother, before finally meeting her. After John and his mother, Julia, visit Blackpool for the day, John starts to become obsessed with rock 'n' roll music.
After John is suspended from his school, Quarry Bank High, he agrees with Julia to stay at her house every day after leaving his home to avoid being caught by his aunt, Mimi Smith. During this time, Julia teaches John how to play the banjo. Mimi eventually finds out and demands John to return to his home, Mendips, but John refuses. A week later, after hearing an argument between Julia and her husband, he decides to return to Mendips.
John, now obsessed with music, reveals he wants to start a rock 'n' roll group. After Mimi buys him a guitar and he organizes his friends to play with him, John performs at a village fete with his band, named The Quarrymen. After the show, John meets Paul McCartney, who plays "Twenty Flight Rock" by Eddie Cochran. Paul is accepted into the band and the two begin writing songs.
The Quarrymen soon become more popular, even through many troubles, such as Mimi selling John's guitar. After a show, John meets Paul's friend, George Harrison, on the top of a late night bus. After George plays guitar for John, he is accepted into the band as lead guitarist.
Julia holds a birthday party for John at her home, where John confronts her about the whereabouts of his father, Alf Lennon, and why he had to live with Mimi. After returning to Mendips and arguing with Mimi, Mimi tells him that Julia cheated on Alf when he was young and refused to work on the marriage. Alf asked John who he wanted to stay with for the rest of his life, as Alf was planning on taking John to New Zealand, and John chose his father. After Julia walked out, John ran after her. That is when Mimi took John and raised him as her son. John soon leaves in anger.
Tensions start to clear between John, Julia and Mimi after John moves out. Mimi and Julia start to get along until Julia is hit and killed by a driver. John, for years afterwards, becomes an angry person.
A couple of years later, John asks Mimi for his passports, as he is going to Hamburg with the newly formed Beatles. Mimi tells John to call her as soon as he arrives in Hamburg. The film ends with John walking away from Mendips with the caption "John phoned Mimi as soon as he arrived him Hamburg...and every thereafter for the rest of his life".
- Aaron Johnson as John Lennon
- Kristin Scott Thomas as Mimi Smith
- David Threlfall as George Toogood Smith
- Josh Bolt as Pete Shotton
- Ophelia Lovibond as Maria Kennedy
- James Michael Johnson as Stan Parkes
- Anne-Marie Duff as Julia Lennon
- David Morrissey as Bobby Dykins
- Andrew Buchan as Michael Fishwick
- James Jack Bentham as Rod Davis
- Jack McElhone as Eric Griffiths
- Thomas Brodie Sangster as Paul McCartney
- Sam Bell as George Harrison
- Christian Bird as Jimmy Tarbuck
- Colin Tierney as Alf Lennon
The film was the directorial debut of conceptual artist/photographer Sam Taylor-Wood. The screenplay was written by Matt Greenhalgh, who also wrote the Joy Division film Control. It was shot on location in Liverpool, and at Ealing Studios in West London. Some of the interior school scenes were filmed at Sacred Heart Catholic College in Crosby. Following the announcement of the film, initial media accounts indicated that it would be based on the book Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon by Lennon's half sister Julia Baird. However, the credits for the completed film do not reference either the book or Baird, with sole writing credit accorded to screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh. The director consulted both McCartney and Yoko Ono about the script, with both firmly correcting the depiction of Mimi to be less strict and more loving of John.
The film received a National Lottery funding of ₤1.2 million from the UK Film Council Premier Fund, with an additional ₤35,500 from its Development Fund to create the script. The film also received a grant from Film4 (the film division of Channel 4).
HanWay Films represented worldwide sales. Distributor Icon Entertainment International took the rights for the United Kingdom and Australia. Mars Distribution acquired the rights for France. The Weinstein Company distributed the film in the USA, Germany and Latin America.
Following the release, McCartney commented on his depiction in the film. Referring to a scene in which Lennon punches him, McCartney stated that he was never punched out by John, "but my character is kind of cool in the film so I don’t mind being punched out. I told the film director Sam (Taylor-Wood) all of that but she said, ‘Yeah, but Paul, it’s just a film.’"
The film had its world premiere on 29 October 2009 at the closing night of the London Film Festival. The film was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival on 27 January. It screened again at the Maui Film Festival in Wailea, Hawaii, on 18 June 2010, and at the Fest for Beatles Fans convention in Chicago on 14 August 2010.
The film has received mostly positive reviews from film critics. Based on 135 reviews, it currently holds a 79% "Certified Fresh" rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. The site's critical consensus of the film is: "Don't expect any musical insights, but this look at John Lennon's early life benefits from its restrained, low-key approach and some fine acting from Aaron Johnson."
Nowhere Boy was nominated for four British Academy Film Awards: Outstanding British Film, Best Supporting Actress (one each for Anne-Marie Duff and Kristin Scott Thomas), and Outstanding Debut by a British director (Sam Taylor-Wood).
The soundtrack features several of the songs played by The Quarrymen at the time depicted in the film. New recordings were made featuring performances by Johnson and Thomas Sangster. Sangster was able to play the guitar before landing his role, but, as he is right-handed, learned how to play left-handed, à la McCartney. Producers negotiated with Yoko Ono for the rights to use Lennon's song "Mother" in the film. In addition to the featured songs, British electronica duo Goldfrapp provide the film's instrumental score. The soundtrack was released digitally on 11 December 2009 and in stores as a two-disc album by Sony Music Entertainment on 29 December 2009.
- Disc 1
- Jerry Lee Lewis – "Wild One"
- Dickie Valentine – "Mr. Sandman"
- Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats – "Rocket 88"
- Elvis Presley – "Shake, Rattle & Roll"
- Wanda Jackson – "Hard Headed Woman"
- Screamin' Jay Hawkins – "I Put a Spell on You"
- The Nowhere Boys – "Maggie May"
- The Nowhere Boys – "That'll Be the Day"
- Eddie Bond and The Stompers – "Rockin' Daddy"
- Thomas Sangster – "Twenty Flight Rock"
- The Nowhere Boys – "That's Alright Mama"
- The Nowhere Boys – "Movin' and Groovin'"
- The Nowhere Boys – "Raunchy"
- Big Mama Thornton – "Hound Dog"
- Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps – "Be-Bop-A-Lula"
- Aaron Johnson – "Hello Little Girl"
- The Nowhere Boys – "In Spite of All the Danger"
- John Lennon – "Mother"
- Disc 2
- Chuck Berry – "Roll Over Beethoven"
- Bill Haley and His Comets – "Rock Around the Clock"
- Little Richard – "Rip It Up"
- Elvis Presley – "Baby, Let's Play House"
- Buddy Holly – "Peggy Sue"
- Buddy Knox – "Party Doll"
- Bobby Fuller Four – "I Fought the Law"
- Vince Taylor and His Playboys – "Brand New Cadillac"
- Dale Hawkins – "Susie Q"
- Shirley & Lee – "Let the Good Times Roll"
- Barrett Strong – "Money (That's What I Want)"
- Fats Domino – "Ain't That a Shame"
- Lloyd Price – "Stagger Lee"
- Frankie Vaughan – "These Dangerous Years"
- The Del-Vikings – "Come Go with Me"
- Bamigboye, Baz (13 February 2009). "When it comes to the young Beatles, all you need is Thomas". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 5 March 2009.
- Adetunji, Jo (18 July 2008). "Imagine John Lennon's childhood: Nowhere Boy heads for big screen". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 5 March 2009.
- "Nowhere Boy NEW! Official USA Trailer (2010)". YouTube. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- Jaafar, Ali (9 January 2009). "Kristin Scott Thomas joins 'Nowhere'". Variety Magazine. Retrieved 5 March 2009.
- Kay, Jeremy (16 March 2009). "Weinsteins take US, Latin America, Germany on Nowhere Boy". ScreenDaily.com (Emap Media). Retrieved 16 March 2009.[dead link]
- "Lennon childhood film gets grant". BBC News website. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2009.
- Breznican, Anthony (29 January 2010). "Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono help filmmakers find 'Nowhere Boy'". USA Today. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
- "Urban western Harry Brown, Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy and psychological thriller 1939 receive UKFC Lottery funding". UK Film Council. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
- Staff (3 August 2009). "Sam Taylor-Wood's Nowhere Boy to close London Film Festival". Screen International (Emap Media). Retrieved 3 August 2009.
- "Nowhere Boy US". The Playlist. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- Haber, Dave (26 April 2010). "Fans come together for new John Lennon film". BeatlesNews.com. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- Swift, Jacqui (24 June 2010). "I like Obama... and he’s right to have a go at us for polluting his country". The Sun. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
- Coll, Kevin (3 December 2009). "Nowhere Boy, The Runaways and The Company Men All to Premiere At 2010 Sundance Film Festival Out-Of-Competition". Fused Film. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
- "Nowhere Boy". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- "John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy fails to win in BAFTAs". Liverpool Echo. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- Goldfrapp, Allison (18 September 2009). "hello nowhere boy x". Retrieved 18 September 2009.[dead link]
- Official website
- Nowhere Boy at the Internet Movie Database
- Nowhere Boy at AllRovi
- Nowhere Boy at Box Office Mojo
- Nowhere Boy at Rotten Tomatoes
- Nowhere Boy at Metacritic