The first thing that struck me after seeing Nowhere Boy was how short it was. In that sense, I’m unsure how much of a traditional biopic it is. But really, I don’t care. My desire for seeing it depended less on my interest in The Beatles and more in completing the trimester of Aaron Johnson films I’d seen this year (one, two) and in and seeing a film with Kristin Scott Thomas who I have an ongoing love affair and who I persist deserves to find more mainstream success than she does.
I remember earlier in the year when the nominations for the BAFTAs came out I was quite glad to see Kristin Scott Thomas Kristin Scott Thomas has the oddest ability to speak English as if it were not her natural language. Listening to her as she enunciates there’s not the slightest trace of Sylvia McCordle or Katherine Clifton and though it’s odd at first how much she seems to be acting unsubtly it’s not exactly her fault that she slapped with the bulk of uncomfortable expository dialogue. It’s the sort of dull symbolism that Sam Taylor Wood and Matt Greenlagh seem intent on propagating. From Kristin’s black hair and constant costumes to Anne-Marie Duff’s red hair and similarly red (or rose-tinted) costumes it’s all very rote but I can’t feel particularly angry at him. From its fanciful name to the almost ludicrously convoluted plot lines Nowhere Boy seems to exist more as a musical fable than a musical biopic.
With everyone around being forced to play some fabrication of a character and not a person (albeit excellently), so of course it ends up depending on Aaron Johnson for a large portiont present therealism of the film. I remarked after seeing Kick-Ass that Johnson seemed to have the potential for greatness, with which his superhero incarnation would be remembered as the beginning of it all. Oddly, despite only now going worldwide Nowhere Boy and The Greatest were shot before Kick-Ass. I'm now excited to see what else he can do since he's obviously a talented youngster, managing to make Lennon (the character) and his antics believable even in light of some dubious script decisions.
I would not charge Nowhere Boy with being revolutionary or particularly innovative in its techniques. But so often (and again and again) I end up being seduced by the little British films. The crux of the film’s charm does not lie in the fact that it’s based on Lennon’s life. It doesn’t depend on your knowledge (or interest) in the Beatles, I’m not sure it even depends on your interest in the story. It’s a valiant effort of an independent drama that depends less on realism and more on its allure, and I was enticed.
B+ (I have a feeling I’m being unnecessarily generous, but oh well)