I don't know why more of a fuss hasn't been made over the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy. Directed by British artist/photographer turned filmmaker Sam Taylor-Wood, it's an empathetic, immersively detailed account of Lennon's adolescence that avoids most of the pitfalls of rock lives-of-the-saints movies: no cornball "Eureka!" moments (e.g., the meeting of Aaron Johnson's Lennon and Thomas Sangster's Paul McCartney is mercifully offhand), few archly ironic lines or nods that telegraph the legend to come.
It got a huge reception as arguably the best opening night movie ever at the Nashville Film Festival this year, but this weekend it creeps into the Carmike Thoroughbred 20 in Cool Springs with barely a whisper. It's well worth seeking out, though. Here's Toby Leonard's write-up from the Scene's NaFF coverage last April:
Artist/photographer Sam Taylor-Wood arrived with a literal bang in "Love You More," arguably the most electrifying short film on the festival circuit last year. The material she's chosen for her first feature — a pre-Beatles John Lennon biopic — would have lesser filmmakers cowering in fear, but she more or less pulls it off. Opening with the same big ninth chord that kicks off "A Hard Day's Night" (the closest thing to actual Beatles music you'll hear in the film), Taylor-Wood details a cocky young Lennon (Aaron Johnson in a much lower-profile film than the superheroic Kick-Ass) doing all the bad boy things you would imagine. When not dodging the furrowed brow of his aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), he smokes, skips school, and generally misbehaves until he develops a relationship with his hitherto absent mother Julia (a radiant Anne-Marie Duff). She recognizes his creativity, puts an instrument in his hand, turns him on, and the rest is history ... but not just yet. The wink-wink-here's-a-Beatles-reference subplot of John's musical development will delight many a fan, but it clashes with some sappy melodrama involving the cocky Lennon, his stern aunt, and the mother who acts like a googly-eyed girlfriend.