Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. By the end of Nowhere Boy, you'll feel you know John Lennon better than you ever did.
  2. It's a measure of how good a film Nowhere Boy is that it would be compelling even if it were the story of the formative years of a boy named Joe Brown.
  3. 88
    We learn that the emotional roller coaster of his formative years probably contributed to the complexity of his lyrics.
  4. 88
    It's strange enough to be raised by your aunt. For young John Lennon, things get stranger still when he finds himself dating his mother.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    It paints a complex picture of strained familial relations and a poignant look at the wounds inflicted on a sensitive soul by an unreliable parent.
  6. Nowhere Boy is too astutely written and directed to go to predictably melodramatic extremes.
  7. 80
    Scott Thomas' delicate, ferocious performance captures a woman quietly at war with herself, who begins to realize that her vision of respectability may not fit the remarkable young man in her care.
  8. There are so many ways in which Nowhere Boy, an emotionally raw and yet raucous, rockin' riff on John Lennon's turbulent teenage years, is such an entertaining piece of nostalgia.
  9. 80
    The maternal triangle is pretty well handled too, giving a good sense of where Lennon came by all that exuberance and melancholy.
  10. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Oct 27, 2010
    We get little sense of his interior life, what was going on in his head as school, girlfriends and music were competing for his attention and music was winning out. His drive is suggested, but never really felt in the performance.
  11. 75
    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.
  12. 75
    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.
  13. 75
    Nowhere Boy is great at depicting the birth of Lennon's love for his art.
  14. Taylor-Wood stresses the universals rather than the specifics of John's youth. So don't go expecting a Fab Four origin story. The word Beatles is never uttered. But do go.
  15. To watch Nowhere Boy is to appreciate anew both the anger that drove Lennon and the strength of character it took for him to overcome it.
  16. It's effective but schematic storytelling.
  17. 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."
  18. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    The baby-faced Thomas Sangster nearly steals the show in the much smaller role of Paul McCartney.
  19. The script, adapted by Matt Greenhalgh from a memoir by Lennon's half-sister, Julia Baird, is flagrantly Oedipal; almost every scene between John and his mother is sexually charged. The curse is taken off most of these encounters by Anne-Marie Duff's eloquent work in the mother's role.
  20. Nowhere Boy reveals the magnitude of the good women behind the grand icon.
  21. 67
    It's often flat and dull, and it can be heavy-handed with the little acorn-that-will-yield-the-famous-oak bits that so often dot biographical films about the youthful lives of famous figures.
  22. 67
    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.
  23. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    As sympathetic and well-turned as it is, Nowhere Boy only gives us more mythology.
  24. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Anchored by a strong central turn, Nowhere Boy crafts entertaining, small-scale drama out of Lennon's huge-sized legend. It just lacks the spark and ambition of its subject.
  25. 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).
  26. 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.
  27. 50
    Even with all this talent and earnestness, though, Nowhere Boy still feels indulgent, slight and almost instantly forgettable.
  28. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    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.
  29. It's a pleasant-enough creation story to revisit, one weighted down by melodrama and lifted up by some rocking tunes.
  30. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Nowhere Boy is a surprisingly conventional film - adroit at weaving a time-and-place mood but way too rigid dramatically to bring the Lennon family dynamic to life.
  31. 50
    A respectable but surprisingly conventional feature-debut effort from Brit artist-turned-helmer Sam Taylor-Wood.
  32. Johnson is convincing as a swaggering, jokey Lennon, but the photos of young John, Paul and George that end the movie ultimately have more punch than this bubblegummy montage.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 51 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Nov 8, 2010
    Not being a John Lennon fanatic but more of a casual fan of his, it was actor Aaron Johnson that brought me into Nowhere Boy, and I was right to be brought in - he hits this completely out of the ballpark. Lennon's upper teenage years are the focus, and we see the kind of home life Lennon had, and what shaped the man he would become as one of the biggest musical influences of all time. Johnson, a PNR Rising Star this year, is amazing - this kid has so much talent oozing out of him it won't be long before Oscar comes calling. Kristin Scott-Thomas shines as Mimi, John's somewhat icy aunt, with whom he lives, and Anne-Marie Duff is amazing as Julia, John's mum, who he finds out lives just down the road from him. Even for a casual Lennon fan, this is a great film to see just for those three performances. And just to be snarky, if ever there was a film that deserved the MPAA's ridiculous "smoking " advisory, this is it - Johnson is rarely if ever without a cigarette in the last third of the film, nor are many of the rest of the cast...Nowhere Boy shines all the way around, and I think John would be very pleased with the result - and Yoko has said that SHE is... Full Review »
  2. Oct 11, 2010
    I was under the misimpression that this would be a story about the formation of the Beatles from John Lennon's perspective. Instead, we get a poorly paced examination of Lennon and the two women in his life. I was, frankly, a little bored. The lead actor is solid enough to keep me interested, and his mother is terrific, but as a movie - I'd give it a pass. Full Review »
  3. Oct 29, 2010
    By no means a masterpiece, but an enjoyable film about the tragedies that affected Lennon before becoming one of the greatest musicians his world has ever seen,

    One problem i found was a bit of an abrupt ending and it could of easily been extended but it did well enough in the time it was.
    Full Review »