Nowhere Boy


Nowhere Boy (2010)


Critic Consensus: 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.


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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 his voice -- and an icon explodes into the world.

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Critic Reviews for Nowhere Boy

All Critics (145) | Top Critics (31)

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.

Oct 19, 2010 | Full Review…

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.

Oct 15, 2010 | Full Review…

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

Oct 15, 2010 | Rating: B | Full Review…
Detroit News
Top 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.

Oct 15, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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

Oct 15, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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

Oct 15, 2010 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Nowhere Boy

An authentic and moving drama that takes a look at the life of a pre-Beatles 15-year-old John Lennon and mainly benefits from its sensitive narrative approach and remarkable performance by Aaron Johnson, who impresses us even if he looks nothing like the real John.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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.

Jim Hunter
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.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

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.

Sophie Burgess
Sophie Burgess

Super Reviewer

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