Sunday, 18 April 2010

Nowhere Boy (Moviemail May 2010)

No mere Beatles cash-in, but a highly sensitive, attuned piece of storytelling, artist Sam Taylor-Wood’s pre-Fab drama casts the teenage John Lennon as the centre point in a tangled true-life love triangle. This Lennon (newcomer Aaron Johnson) is drifting towards delinquency under the roof of his adoptive Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott-Thomas) when his birth mum Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) reappears. As if this visibly unstable woman wasn’t enough for one ordinary schoolboy to manage, there’s also a certain influential skiffle group that requires assembling.

Aided by Control screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh’s sharp eye (and ear) for a telling musical backstory, Taylor-Wood here makes a very different form of debut to her BritArt contemporary Steve McQueen’s Hunger, but Nowhere Boy is scarcely less striking in its close attention to detail and mood, and she’s a persuasive director of actors. Johnson skilfully reveals the deep-set emotional scarring beneath Lennon’s inchoate cheek, and with Duff compellingly vulnerable in the dramatic scenes, the ever-wonderful Scott-Thomas seizes upon a rare light-comic role as the disapproving landlady/older sister. Love it do.

Nowhere Boy is released on DVD May 10.

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