Nowhere Boy

DRAMA; 1hr 38min

STARRING: Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff, Aaron Johnson

Day trippers: Johnson and Duff

Before John Lennon (Johnson) became Beatle John, he was an up-for-anything teenager being raised by his martinetish Aunt Mimi (Scott Thomas) in drably suburban Liverpool, despite the fact that his vivacious mother, Julia (Duff), lived nearby. Mimi isn’t given to emotional displays in director Sam Taylor-Wood’s simpatico rendering of John’s early life, based on the 1988 memoir John Lennon, My Brother by his younger half-sister, Julia Baird. But she loves her nephew and does the right thing for him in a way that depressive Julia is unable to manage.


Julia teaches John the banjo, but it’s Mimi who buys the emerging rocker his first, £7 guitar. He forms the Quarrymen skiffle band and through them meets 15-year-old Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster), who suggests the two start writing original material (which in retrospect was a brilliant idea). Johnson makes a dreamy-eyed, internally conflicted John whose separation from his mother at age five would do long-term emotional damage. But this is also a story of bridges mended and of the restorative gift of music when music for its own sake is enough.