Nowhere Boy (UK, 2009)

Layout 1Directed by: Sam Taylor-Wood. This movie reminded me more of Walk Hard than of any of the legitimate biopics that it’s trying to emulate. For those of you who don’t know, Walk Hard is the slapstick biopic-spoof of a fictional legendary musician named Dewey Cox, played by John C. Reilly. The whole thing takes potshots at movies like Ray and Walk the Line, stories that glorify American musicians of the 20th century, showing them buckle under adversity, and grappling with the challenges of transforming from a regular person into the Really Important Cultural Icon that they are destined to become. What really draws the comparison from that to Nowhere Boy—an attempt at a legitimate, sincere exploration of just how it was that a scruffy young lad from a broken home could go on to become a musical genius—is the exaggerated sense of destiny in every little meeting. The introduction of cocky, arrogant John to “me mate Paul—he plays music too”, feels way too similar to the scene where Dewey Cox meets The Beatles in India (just watch the movie and you’ll see what I mean). The main problem I had with the whole film was that everyone involved was probably a huge, huge, huge fan of the Beatles and John Lennon—understandably so. But unfortunately, this means that John Lennon’s status as a towering icon of musical genius and cultural importance is sacrosanct. What they wanted was to make a film about how a little scruffy troublemaker from Liverpool could go on to become a huge cultural figure—how John Lennon became JOHN LENNON—but instead they made a film about how JOHN LENNON became JOHN LENNON. This scruffy kid is already the musical genius they know he’ll become, and the transformation that would make it so interesting is made way less powerful. Not to mention the shitty acting—without Kristin Scott Thomas to keep it afloat, this thing would be unwatchable.

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2 responses to “Nowhere Boy (UK, 2009)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2012 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Fish Tank (UK, 2009) | Offhand Reviews·

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