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The Essential Guide to Newcastle
05 November 2009
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Nowhere Boy (tbc)

The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/10/2009

Opens Friday 25 December 2009

London Film Festival
7pm, Thursday 29th October, Odeon Leicester Square

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Enjoyable, impressively directed and emotionally engaging biopic with a terrific script and great performances from Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff.

What's it all about?
Directed by British artist Sam Taylor-Wood, Nowhere Boy is a biopic about the early days of John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) based on the book by John's half-sister Julia. In 1955, John is living with his aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his uncle George (David Threlfall), who have raised him since he was five years old, but when George dies, John reconnects with his flighty mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), which causes tension between the two women and also between Julia and her husband Bobby (David Morrissey).

Meanwhile, John discovers rock'n'roll through hanging out with his mother and decides to form a skiffle band with his friends, but when he meets young Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster), he senses he's found a kindred spirit and the pair begin to write songs together.

The Good
Aaron Johnson has been less than impressive elsewhere (Dummy, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging) but he certainly looks the part here, capturing something of Lennon's spirit and nailing his key emotional scenes. However, his Liverpool accent is all over the place (it's thick in some scenes, non-existent in others), which is occasionally frustrating.

The rest of the cast are terrific, particularly Kristin Scott Thomas, who reveals a hint of warmth under Mimi's buttoned-up exterior and Anne-Marie Duff, whose skilful performance subtly hints at Julia's fragile mental and emotional state. There's also strong support from David Morrissey, David Threlfall and Thomas Sangster, who underplays nicely as Paul.

The Great
Taylor-Wood's direction is excellent, convincingly recreating the feel of 1950s Liverpool thanks to some impeccable production design work. The script is equally good (the dialogue is peppered with Lennon's familiar sarcasm) and there's a superb soundtrack to boot – the scenes of the band performing are extremely well done, offering tantalising hints of the greatness to come, particularly in the recording room sequence.

In addition, the film is packed with brilliant scenes and wonderful little moments, such as Lennon and his friend riding on the roof of a double decker bus or John's reaction to Paul speaking to the audience for the first time.

Worth seeing?
Nowhere Boy is a hugely enjoyable, emotionally engaging and superbly acted biopic that marks Sam Taylor-Wood out as a director to watch. Highly recommended.

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Nowhere Boy (tbc)
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