Nowhere Boy (2010) - Rotten Tomatoes

Nowhere Boy2010

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

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Thomas Brodie-Sangster
as Paul McCartney
Anne-Marie Duff
as Julia Lennon
David Morrissey
as Bobby Dykins
David Threlfall
as Uncle George
Sam Bell
as George
Kerrie Hayes
as Marie's Friend
Richard Syms
as Reverend
Alex Ambrose
as Young John
Angelica Jopling
as Julie (age 8)
Abby Greenhalgh
as Jackie (age 6)
Richard Tate
as Teacher
Andrew Buchan
as Fishwick
Chris Coghill
as Cunard Yank
Simon Lowe
as Guitar Shop Guy
Nigel Travis
as Cavern Bouncer
Lizzie Hopley
as Café Waitress
Dan Armour
as Percy Phillips
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Critic Reviews for Nowhere Boy

All Critics (148) | Top Critics (49)

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.

August 29, 2018 | Full Review…

This is a very decent effort for a first-time director, but given the auteurist expectations created by Taylor-Wood's track record in the art world, it's hard to discern a distinctively personal take on the material, or indeed the medium.

July 6, 2018 | Full Review…

The acting all round is pretty good, but the story itself is given to a sense of drift, as if the film itself doesn't know any better than Lennon what it wants.

April 6, 2017 | Full Review…

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…

Nowhere Boy reveals the magnitude of the good women behind the grand icon.

October 15, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | 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.

October 15, 2010 | 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

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