Box art for Nowhere Boy

Nowhere Boy

drama


Liverpool, 1955: a smart and troubled fifteen-year-old John Lennon is hungry for experience. In a family full of secrets and tragedy, two incredible women clash over John, who escapes into the new and exciting world of rock 'n' roll.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    79%
  • Audience Score
    74%

common sense

ON for kids age 16
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
Language
3 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
Sex
2 out of 5
Violence
2 out of 5

Compelling, mature portrait of a musician as a young man.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this drama about the beginnings of musician John Lennon -- and, later, the Beatles -- could appeal to kids who've discovered the iconic band's music. But since it goes beyond a mere "origin story" to tackle weighty themes like parental abandonment and mental illness, it's probably too dark for tweens and younger teens. That said, there's also a lot of compassion and empathy here, especially between characters who have reason to opt for hatred and estrangement, and the movie has a positive, healing message overall. Expect some sexually charged scenes (make-outs, etc.), plus swearing (including "f--k") and underage drinking.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about John Lennon's relationship with music. Did he seek out music as a refuge, or was it a way to connect with his mother? What does music mean to you?
  • How does this movie compare to others about artists in their early years? How is their art informed by their past?
  • How does the movie portray teen drinking? What are the consequences for the characters? What would the consequences be in real life?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    79%
    reviews counted: 10
    see all Nowhere Boy reviews
  • Audience

    74%

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: And though this biopic is as tidy as a three minute pop song, when we see him look back one last time as he leaves Aunt Mimi's for Hamburg and all that would come after, the music god is just a little more human.

- Amy Nicholson, Boxoffice Magazine, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: Rather than a rock 'n' roll biopic, this is a classic British family melodrama, anchored by one of the subtlest, richest roles in Kristin Scott Thomas' impressive career.

- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: An authentic, overdue biopic that explains Lennon's torment and fire.

- Ed Gibbs, Empire Magazine Australasia, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

2 stars

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.

- hunterjt13, Monday, May 20, 2013

2 stars

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.

- hunterjt13, Monday, May 20, 2013

3 stars

An interesting but unfocused look into John Lennon's teen years which introduced us to the formation of the Beatles (sans Ringo) and gave us an idea of his mentality and were his lyrics came from. I do feel however that it's not the most interesting part of his life which is why I haven't rated it so well. It's not as focused as it could have been and tries to cover a lot in such a small amount of time.

- StarCrossedVoyager, Tuesday, January 31, 2012