Magazine article The Spectator

Dual Control

Magazine article The Spectator

Dual Control

Article excerpt

Nowhere Boy

15, Nationwide from 26 December

Firstly, the year in review - it was good, thanks - and now on to Nowhere Boy, the surprisingly conventional first feature-length film from visual artist Sam Taylor Wood. It is perfectly accomplished, and pleasing enough, but it's not going to blow your socks off, even though the combination of Ms Taylor Wood and such a compelling story would give you every reason to think it might. That said, having your socks blown off is rather overrated. Or, as one man told me, 'My socks blew off in 1976 and I've yet to find them. They were nice socks, too.' So there is something to be said for not having your socks blown off, I suppose.

The story? This is a biopic of the early years of John Lennon, covering his totally weird upbringing. He was brought up by his Aunt Mimi, whom he thought was his mum until his mid-teens, when he discovered that his real mum was actually Mimi's sister, Julia, who, it turned out, lived nearby.

These days, they'd all be on The Jeremy Kyle Show, spewing their guts out, but folks got on with their crazy lunacies - their mishigas, as my old nan would have said - quietly back then. It opens with the familiar guitar twang of 'A Hard Day's Night' and it is set in 1950s Liverpool, although you never really get a sense of Liverpool at that time. This film is extremely highly coloured - all ruby reds and vivid oranges - giving everything a peculiarly artificial feel. I do not know Ms Taylor Wood, and have never visited her home, but I'm betting it is not all done up in magnolia. She does seem to have a thing for colour. An Education, though, did a much better job with its period feel, and that was very brown. Is brown the key?

Don't ask me. I didn't go to film school!

The young actor Aaron Johnson plays the teenage Lennon, and has a good stab at it, even if his Liverpool accent goes awol after ten minutes and never returns but, strangely, it scarcely matters, as the real stars of Nowhere Boy are Anne-Marie Duff as Julia and Kristin Scott Thomas as Mimi. Ms Duff has those huge, expressive eyes, while Scott Thomas, who is actually far too posh for the role of working-class Liverpudlian housewife - she sometimes looks as if she has mistakenly wandered in from a statelyhome movie set in 1816 - does have the sort of bone structure that is a mesmerising qattraction in and of itself. …

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