Nowhere Boy

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 57 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 57
  2. Negative: 1 out of 57

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User Reviews

  1. 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.
  2. Nov 22, 2010
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. You'll be able to name that tune in one note. The struck chord that the artist as a young man hears in his sleep, in his childhood home, blissfully unaware of what the dream, the ringing note entails. John Lennon wakes up without the slightest indication that he's just had a nightmare. He thinks it was a good dream; he's a dreamer. In this reverie, John is standing outside a building, and then he's running; the boy is running away from an invisible mob of cheering fans, and that struck chord, of course, is the opening to "A Hard Day's Night". The dream plays like an ancillary scene from the 1964 Richard Lester film which captured Beatlemania at its most manic. The artist as a young man doesn't quite remember what transpired during this dream, but he knows that the purchasing of a guitar is his ticket to fame and fortune, and also, as we all learned on that fateful December day in 1980, a violent, abrupt death. Alas, the struck chord could be a tolling bell that just struck midnight, signalling the end to a charmed life at the hands of a madman. Young Lennon isn't running away from his adoring fans, he's running away from a fanatic. Sometimes charming, sometimes alarming, "Nowhere Boy", nevertheless, is the perfect antidote for Lennon fans who were faced with, not one, but two films about Mark David Chapman(J.P. Schaefer's "Chapter 27" and Andrew Piddington's "The Assassination of John Lennon"), which for some, were two films too many. Ironically enough, though, it's "Nowhere Boy" that shows Lennon being shot, albeit in code. Ultimately, the struck chord could very be the fatal gunshot blast. Based on the memoir by Julia Baird("Imagine This: Growing Up with my Brother John Lennon"), the late Beatle's half-sister, the filmmaker seems less interested in Lennon's music than with the complicated relationship he had with his mother, also named Julia(Anne Marie Duff), whom John paid tribute to on "The White Album". The film reinforces the ambiguity surrounding "Julia", in which the lyrics describe a woman, not a maternal figure, and that's how John relates to his mother, as the new woman in his life. If it wasn't for "Julia", the elegiac ballad that some may confuse for a love song, since Lennon's lyrics describe his mother in almost erotic terms("seashell eyes, windy smile...her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering"). He asks her to "touch me", and in "Nowhere Boy", there's touching, but is it a good touch, when mom lies down on her son, as Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You" plays in the background. It's a little weird because Julia tells John in an earlier scene that "rock and roll equals sex", and while the song plays, his mind reflects back on a sexual encounter he recently had with a local neighborhood girl, suggesting that the boy finds his mother equally alluring. Does this suggestion of an incestuous relationship upstage the music? Yes. But that's not necessarily an unforgivable thing, since this undefined love competes against Lennon's first band The Quarrymen, not the most influential band of the twentieth century. But does the romantic love that might have existed between mother and son play like an invasion of the legendary musician's privacy, in which Baird's first-hand testimony of the going-ons in her early English home that informs "Nowhere Boy" seem a bit on the sensationalistic side, therefore shrouding this biopic in tackiness? Yes. But it's fascinating. Still, it would've been nice if the filmmaker included one scene that showcased the dawning of Lennon's musical genius. Expand
  3. j30
    Sep 22, 2011
    Interesting movie about John Lennon's life. Some good acting, but a poorly paced storyline holds this movie back emotionally.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. 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.
  2. 75
    Nowhere Boy is great at depicting the birth of Lennon's love for his art.
  3. 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.