Like London omnibuses, when one moving image period drama examining a 20th century icon appears over the horizon, another is sure to follow imminently. It was the turn of John Lennon last evening. Gripping steaming mug of tea and with Mars Bar coquettishly poking out of breast pocket, I entered the Guildhall kino with expectations high. Nowhere Boy awaited, impatiently tuning a banjo. It did not disappoint.
This proved a beautiful feature film, highlighting a fascinating section of the youthful Beatle’s life. Here was the era of skiffle, drainpipe trousers, fleeting glimpses of a shimmering young Elvis and the nation’s gradual emergence from post-war austerity. Against these landmarks, a young scouse rebel strutted, forming bands, meeting George and Paul, learning chords, sucking on scrounged ciggies, dodging fares and, crucially, coming to terms with a complex and hauntingly sad mother-aunt-absent father triangle. The story of the young Lennon is familiar and one that this punter has read again and again, most latterly within the many pages of the fine Philip Norman tome (which heavily influences plenty of this film’s narrative methinks). The impact on screen of such a well-documented, well, legend was tangibly forceful; the tremendous acting, the evocative late-fifties interiors, the capture of a characterful city’s heart all combined to proffer a sumptuous hour or two. It was all so believable and raw and exciting and sharp. The details – deckchairs, tea-pots, crates of ale – were deliriously thrown at the viewer and would have sufficed to keep most audiences riveted; add to the mix a joyous script and a breathtakingly exhilarating tale and one is privy to some brilliant film-making. Nowhere Boy was a tremendous treat and this grateful fellow can’t recommend it highly enough. I’d like to see it again.