At the bottom of my street – really, barely a hundred yards from my front door – a bunch of puffy-jacketed types are spending most of today filming ‘Nowhere Boy’, a biography of the young John Lennon. It’s Sam Taylor Wood’s first feature directing gig. Kristin Scott Thomas is playing Aunt Mimi, and newbie Aaron Johnson shoulders the Lennon burden, while I’m not even allowed to park my 2002 VW Golf in my own driveway goddammit!
It’s adapted, from the memoirs of Lennon’s half-sister, by Matt Greenhalgh, who also adapted the Joy Division biopic ‘Control’, and it features dependable ol’ David Morrissey and James McAvoy’s missus, Anne-Marie Duff, as John’s mum. Anyway, here’s the synopsis from IMDB:
Imagine [ha!] John Lennon’s childhood. A spirited teenager, curious, sharp and funny, growing up in the shattered city of Liverpool. Two extraordinary sisters tussle for his love – Mimi, the formidable aunt who raised him from the age of 5, and Julia, the spirited mother who gave him up to Mimi’s care. Yearning for a normal family, John escapes into art and the new music flooding in from the US. His fledgling genius finds a kindred spirit in the young Paul McCartney. But just as John’s new life begins, the truth about his past leads to a tragedy he would never escape.
I don’t suppose anyone could enlighten me as to what this tragedy is so I don’t have to see the film when it comes out next Spring? Does Aunt Mimi induct the nascent Beatle into the dark art of Extreme Knitting? Does she hire a long black-haired Japanese nutjob housemaid, who, apart from being prone to smashing her head against a tambourine while wailing antiwar dogma, takes it upon herself to pop the Lennon cherry?
I really can’t think of any other reason for seeing it. Lennon’s life is a fascinating one, but ‘Backbeat’ was a great movie about The Beatles’ Hamburg life and it was also a great starting point. ‘Nowhere Boy’ ends at the moment ‘Backbeat’ begins, so I suppose it could be a nice companion piece. I also suppose a lot of how Mimi raised him left Lennon vulnerable to the maternal charms of certain ladies, but that aside, it all just seems like a pretty bog standard domestic period drama to me.
The man now in charge of this enterprise is Harvey Weinstein, who, as a teenager, got a dream job as a Gofer at Apple Records. This involved him picking up Beatles from airports, lugging boxes backstage at the Concert for Bangladesh, running dipshit errands for Macca, and generally grooming George’s ‘tache, so he does at least have some third or fourth hand knowledge of the subject matter. One blogger has read the script and posted a couple of exchanges:
When Lennon and Paul McCartney first meet, at a Quarrymen rehearsal at the St. Peter’s Church Hall, a friend shows up with Paul, who’s come armed with a guitar. The friend says, “Paul plays too.” Lennon immediately responds: “With himself?” After he gets a round of giggles, John takes the edge off it, adding “I do. All the time. Good for the wrist muscles.”
I’m not sure I want to know about John Lennon’s early onanistic experiments, but here’s another snippet:
Lennon and McCartney are appearing on stage for the first time as the Quarrymen. Introducing their version of a Chuck Berry song, Lennon says, “I present to you … Mr. Paul McCartney!” Relieved, since he never knows what Lennon might say next, McCartney says, “Thanks, John. Kind words.” Lennon’s reply: “I didn’t mean them.”
Whether this dialogue encourages you to go see it or not depends on how much of a John Lennon fanboy you are, but if you do go, please let me know if there’s a scene where John plays pocket billiards while staring out of his bedroom window at a curvacious neighbour hanging out her washing to the tune of ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’.
I’ll be very disappointed if there isn’t one.
ps) Here’s the bus shelter they’ve constructed at the bottom of my street. Mmmmm, I wonder. Could this shelter play a significant part in the ‘tragedy he would never escape’? Does John fail to provide an appropriate ticket when requested by the conductor, thus leading to abject humiliation and a lifetime of being wildly embarrassed around bus conductors? Does John give a passing toad a knee-trembler against the shelter’s flimsy wooden walls, henceforth giving him a phobia about spontaneous sex with amphibians in prefabricated municiple buildings? Or does he accidentally get a splinter in his ass from the rough hewn bench, a splinter that, over the decades, works its way from his ass to his chest and is instrumental, on that fateful November night, in fatally deflecting Mark Chapman’s bullets toward the ex-Beatle’s doomed heart?
Answers on a postcard please to .