While in London, I had the opportunity to see the film NOWHERE BOY when it was released on Boxing Day. I was curious about the film for several reasons. The script is based on the memoir by Julia Baird, John Lennon's half-sister, and Mrs. Baird distanced herself from the project because she disagreed with some of the director's artistic choices. For example, the film hints at an Oedipal relationship between Lennon and his beautiful mother Julia. I've read Baird's book, and she doesn't hint at any such relationship. Paul McCartney also reportedly refused a personal invitation from the director to see the film. I can understand why an author would have problems with such an interpretation of her family( or why a friend also would have such a problem), and indeed, the oedipal angle(though abandoned quickly) was not necessary to the themes of the film and of Mrs. Baird's memoir: the strong ties that bind families and the need for familial love.
What truly aroused my curiosity was knowing that the British director Ms. Sam Taylor Wood had formed a romantic attachment to the much younger man playing the adolescent John Lennon. The couple now expect a child together. Needless to say, I wanted to know what made this young man so special. However, I don't think age matters in a relationship. My father was seventeen years older than my mother, and they were quite happy together. Let me also not write another word before stating that I found the late John Lennon stunning. John's attractiveness couldn't be compared to Paul McCartney's wholesome and traditional good looks. What Lennon radiated was blatant sexuality and animal magnetism. His eyes seemed to undress all women. Add to that a rapier wit and penetrating intellect and you have the ideal man. Although he is handsome, Aaron Johnson doesn't look like John Lennon. He does, however, radiate Lennon's sex appeal and charismatic personality. His acting is also rock solid; he captures the insecurity of an adolescent coming to terms with sexual desire, with a longing for maternal love, and with his own burgeoning talent. Johnson's portrayal of the young, vulnerable, sexy, and sharp-witted Lennon portend great things for this young actor's future. If he is as smart as he is handsome, Johnson will be seen in many more films and plays. Let's hope he hones his skill some more in good West End productions and indie films.
The other standout is young Thomas Sangster, playing the adolescent Paul McCartney. Who could forget his memorable performance as a young boy mourning his mother in LOVE, ACTUALLY? The young kid's grown up. He even learned to play bass left-handed for this role, and he gives a delightful edge to the young Paul. Too many people have dismissed McCartney as the blandly conservative traditionalist to Lennon's daring innovator. What many people forget is the way the two pushed and challenged each other. Sangster plays McCartney as Lennon's equal-- a young man not afraid to stand up to his more aggressive friend. Sangster deserves credit for taking on the role of a living legend.