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Nowhere Boy (2010)



Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 136
Fresh: 108 | Rotten: 28

Don't expect any musical insights, but this look at John Lennon's early life benefits from its restrained, low-key approach and some fine acting from Aaron Johnson.


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 5

Don't expect any musical insights, but this look at John Lennon's early life benefits from its restrained, low-key approach and some fine acting from Aaron Johnson.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 40,579

My Rating

Movie Info

John Lennon's childhood. Liverpool 1955: a smart and troubled 15-year-old is hungry for experience. In a family full of secrets, two incredible women clash over John: Mimi, the buttoned-up aunt who raised him, and Julia, the prodigal mother. Yearning for a normal family, John escapes into the new and exciting world of rock 'n' roll where his fledgling genius finds a kindred spirit in the teenage Paul McCartney. Just as John begins his new life, tragedy strikes. But, a resilient young man finds



Jan 25, 2011


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Latest News on Nowhere Boy

October 8, 2010:
Sam Taylor-Wood talks John Lennon and Nowhere Boy
Early on in her career, British visual artist Sam Taylor-Wood and her then-partner recreated the...
October 8, 2010:
Five Favorite Films with Aaron Johnson
Stepping into the shoes of a musical icon is never an easy role, particularly when that person is...


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All Critics (138) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (108) | Rotten (28) | DVD (9)

Taylor-Wood has specialized in video installations and off-kilter portraits, and it was tempting to hope that her take on Lennon would unsettle and provoke. Instead, she stays resolutely on-kilter, as if awed into numbness by her subject.

October 19, 2010 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The events chronicled are all longstanding Beatles legends, though director Sam Taylor-Wood manages to stage even the most portentous moments without making you feel a celestial choir is in order.

October 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

More love triangle than musical, the effective and often sweet Nowhere Boy offers a sense of the time and tension that produced John Lennon.

October 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This portrait of a Beatle as a young man also gives filmmaker Sam Taylor-Wood, working on a thoughtful script by Matt Greenhalgh, creative room to manoeuvre, introducing us to John just as he and rock 'n' roll discover one another.

October 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nowhere Boy is a poignant reminder that before the world was at his command, John Lennon was a bit like you and me.

October 15, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although he doesn't look much like Lennon, Johnson captures that essence perfectly; the future icon is here a confused, hurt boy.

October 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fascinating...fills in a lot of blank spaces in the Beatles history we already knew.

January 31, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Nation
Movie Nation

It might not have what Beatles fans are expecting from a film about the young John Lennon, but it remains an interesting portrait of the early days of the future legend and is worth seeking out.

September 22, 2012 Full Review Source:

The content is there but the form is a Xerox copy of every celebrity coming-of-age tale you've heard and seen before.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

A passable drama, and might make a nice double feature with Backbeat.

February 9, 2011 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Nowhere Boy succeeds because its creators never wallow in sanctimony, keep contrivances to a minimum and has a lead actor who evolves his character rather than imitates.

January 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Tallied up, while there are a few flashes of decent writing and some solid acting from the supporting cast, 'Nowhere Boy' lacks any cohesive tempo...

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: UR Chicago Magazine

...quickly decomposes into a well-made picture of the artist as a young man.

November 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Comments (203)
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Nowhere Boy goes somewhere, but it's not into art. Yoko Ono has okayed the movie, but I think John Lennon would sneer at it.

November 13, 2010 Full Review Source:

It cares more about the characters and their relationships than it does the factual or historical context of it all.

November 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

One of the more remarkable biopics to come along in a while, not in the least because it smacks of authenticity without too obviously trying to advertise the fact.

November 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

While it is a downer, it is also interesting and there is enough music in it to at least whet the appetite, if not satisfy one's Beatle music craving.

November 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Nowhere Boy proves the flesh-and-blood Lennon is infinitely more fascinating than the saint.

November 5, 2010 Full Review Source: MovieMaker Magazine
MovieMaker Magazine

In this surprisingly conventional biopic, the unremarkable young John Lennon seems as likely to become Peter Noone or Gerry Marsden as the second coming of Elvis.

November 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Watch for the emotion that manages to bubble up through that pasty, buttoned-up, stiff-upper-lip, postwar England.

November 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Florida Times-Union
Florida Times-Union

There's a whole lotta psychosexual stuff packed into Nowhere Boy, the tale of Lennon's adolescence in Liverpool, which may or may not be true, but it sure makes for a smashing film.

November 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

Plays in no small way as a Life of St. John text, so awed by its subject that it refuses to actually grapple with him.

November 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

The real subjects -- and strengths -- in this narrowly focused biopic are the two women who, more than any one else, were responsible for molding the future star's psyche.

November 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

...depicts the bittersweet birth of musical genius.

October 28, 2010 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm | Comment (1)

Handsomely composed minor-key effort

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

An interesting, entertaining film that opens new doors in understanding Lennon and the strange person he became, but... this film is not about the music.

October 21, 2010 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Nowhere Boy

Young John Lennon is torn between his mercurial biological mother and his stuffy aunt.
The only thing I learned from this film is that John Lennon was once a real prick. The movie goes to great lengths to convince us that his upbringing produced his frustration, but Lennon's reactions to his troubled circumstances seem over-the-top, and we're not given many reasons to find him interesting. The plot languishes in exposition, and the final reveals about Julia's history don't surprise any discerning audience.
Kristin Scott Thomas can do anything, and she gives a fantastic performance, but Aaron Johnson plays youthful angst with all the brattiness of a misbehaving kid at Wal Mart.
I suppose that a more traditional biopic, with an older Lennon reminiscing on the travails of his life, might have been more compelling, and perhaps Beatles fans fill in this "front-story," but I judge a film based more on what is on the screen rather than context.
Overall, there is nothing new about this story for most people, but perhaps a cadre of Beatles fans will find Lennon's history interesting.
May 20, 2013
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Good performance by Aaron Johnson - capturing the Lennon spirit without really looking like him at all - and, (of course), a great one from Kristin Scott Thomas, but otherwise, the film's rather dull. It's almost too thorough, and it comes out more precious and hero-worshipping than it does hard-hitting. Lennon's boyhood doesn't seem so tough, frankly, and unlike a lot of great musician biopics, we don't see the life channel into the music; we come to understand more about the man, but not much more about his art. The result? A fairly boring letdown.
April 8, 2012

Super Reviewer

An interesting but unfocused look into John Lennon's teen years which introduced us to the formation of the Beatles (sans Ringo) and gave us an idea of his mentality and were his lyrics came from. I do feel however that it's not the most interesting part of his life which is why I haven't rated it so well. It's not as focused as it could have been and tries to cover a lot in such a small amount of time.
January 31, 2012

Super Reviewer

John: Why couldn't God make me Elvis? 
Julia: 'Cause he was saving you for John Lennon.

"The Extraordinary Story of John Lennon."

Nowhere Boy chronicles the teenage years of John Lennon. The movie is a family drama and isn't about Lennon and The Beatles. The movie does show how The Beatles was formed to some degree, but that isn't the intent of the film. I knew the story before hand, so nothing from it came as a surprise, but it was a well made and acted film. 

After a slow first twenty minutes, the movie really finds its pace and began to be the movie I hoped it would be. Lennon fans should be happy with this, as it does do a good job showing all of the family issues he grew up with and how it made him the guy everyone knows. People who go into this expecting anything more than just a family drama will be extremely disappointed though. If the thought of watching Lennon fight with his aunt, smoke cigarettes and try to get closer to his mom doesn't excite you; you aren't the only one. I would just suggest not watching it. If you are a fan of films that explore family relationships and how they affect the people involved, Nowhere Boy is a great example of one.

If there's just one reason to watch this movie though, it would be Aaron Johnson. When I initially saw that he was playing I was a little hesitant about it. I loved his performance in KickAss so much, I guess I thought he couldn't do anything more than that. He shows a lot of range with going from KickAss to Nowhere Boy. He goes from geek to the coolest guy alive, and he does it with ease. He looks the part and he definitely struts the part.

The most important thing you need to know about the film is to not give up on it early on. After the first 15 minutes or so, I didn't think I was going to like it at all. Don't worry, it picks up and does become the movie you expected.
November 28, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

    1. John: Could you sign this, please?
    2. Mimi: Where do I sign?
    3. John: Where it says "parent or guardian".
    4. Mimi: But which am I?
    5. John: Both.
    – Submitted by Resty Dennis G (21 months ago)
    1. John: I'll call you when I get to Hamburgo, okay?
    2. Mimi: Don't forget. Please.
    – Submitted by María Paula A (21 months ago)
    1. Mimi: John! Glasses.
    – Submitted by María Paula A (21 months ago)
    1. John: Why couldn't God make me Elvis?
    2. Julia: Cause he was saving you for John Lennon!
    – Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)
    1. John: There's just no point hating someone you love.
    – Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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