There’s an alternate universe where John Lennon moved to New Zealand and never met Paul, George, and Ringo. It’s a small bit of the story in Nowhere Boy, where we spend a couple of years-more or less-in the life of a young John Lennon. We see flashes of genius and flashes of idiocy. We see signs that say Strawberry Fields and hear John’s Mum sing him a song about a hooker named Maggie May. We see the Quarrymen and John’s first flash of jealousy when he met Paul McCartney.
For the most part, we see John Lennon as a normal teenager with dreams of greatness. Of course, unlike most teenagers, John’s dreams of greatness come true. The overlay of what is to come fills all the empty spots in Nowhere Boy. It’s impossible to watch a young John without thinking about the slightly older John to come and the old as he will ever be John who will be shot dead in the middle of the night. It’s a story of fate, karma, and personal choices.
Nowhere Boy is a shared story of John Lennon and his two moms, one a serious person interested in John’s future and welfare and one a nutcase who thinks everyday is a holiday. The story slowly unfolds of how these two sisters made John Lennon the man he would become.
One of the problems with a moody teenage Lennon is that by all accounts he was a wildly silly fellow-and that only comes through in one or two scenes. A bigger problem is that John Lennon isn’t even the real center of the story, it’s more about his family. As a Beatles fan, I’m not that interested in John’s mommy issues.
And that’s what Nowhere Boy is about, John’s family. This would be like making a movie about Einstein’s Patent Clerk days and only mentioning in passing that his did some math in his spare time. Yeah, John Lennon was an interesting person, but his family-not so much.
Nowhere Boy was still a cool film with a few dramatic moments, it’s just a story I’m sure anyone needed to tell.