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: 29
    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

Rotten: The movie succumbs to maudlin sentiment and melodrama that Lennon himself might have dismissed with one of his signature cutting remarks.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, October 15, 2010

Audience Reviews

2 stars

The only intresting parts of movie were the sequences which were about Beatles activities ,their singing on stage and their relationship.But almost the entire movie is focused on John Lennon's relatioship with his mother that i doubt if anyone cares about.But its not satisfying in that part either.Overall as a movie about John Lennon's life it was too short, incomplete and disappointing.

- Alireza64ir, Monday, November 8, 2010

4 stars

"There's just no point hating someone you love." A chronicle of John Lennon's childhood. REVIEW This biopic of John Lennon, taking his story from his schooldays in Liverpool up until the departure of the nascent Beatles for Hamburg, is an exceptional movie, quite the best I have seen during 2010. The story is beautifully handled from beginning to end and the acting from the three main leads is superb. Aaron Johnson manages to portray Lennon's mixture of cockiness (in more ways than one!), aggression, painful vulnerability, bewilderment and sheer adolescent verve with great sureness of touch. We watch Lennon developing from school-kid into knowing young man, and we literally see a different face at the end of the movie to the one we did at the start. Superb playing by Johnson, brilliantly assisted by that of Kristin Scott Thomas as his Aunt Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff as his mother, Julia. It would have been all too easy to lapse into clich with this story but this is largely avoided. We get glimpses of Liverpool - an opening on the steps of St George's Hall, a fleeting glimpse of Strawberry Fields, a shot of a ferry on the Mersey - but these glimpses are all we need. And the movie closes not with a rendition of an all too predictable 'Nowhere Man' but a beautifully performed 'In Spite of All the Danger'. They say it's a long way to the top if you wanna rock n' roll; in Nowhere Boy we can see where it, and we, all began.

- mrpopcorn, Sunday, October 24, 2010

3 stars

I wanted to like this more than I did. It left me feeling a strange combination of inspiration and depression. Inspired by the growth of the artist John Lennon and depressed that I'll never be able to achieve the level of artistic expression that he did. It seemed disjointed in telling two stories about John Lennon's teen years. One part of the movie deals with his troubled home life involving a rebellious John bouncing back and forth between his reliable and strict aunt Mimi and his newly discovered free-spirited mother Julia. The other part shows us the development of John's rock and roll career including learning to play guitar, forming a band through sheer ego, and meeting Paul and George. Sure the two parts are deeply woven together in making John who he was, but I would have liked to see exactly how his complicated maternal figure issue influenced his early song writing or push to be as big as Elvis. Was it simply wanting the attention or love of women? When he is hanging out with his band and developing as a musician, he is a typical rowdy young guy who doesn't reveal his troubles at home. When he has long arguments with his mom and/or his aunt, I wanted to see more about his music and hear the birth of rock and roll. The focus is completely on Aaron Johnson's star performance! He is very tuned in to who John Lennon may have been. Anne-Marie Duff and Kristin Scott Thomas have some good moments, but everyone and everything including the script, editing, and cinematography are only background for director Sam Taylor Wood's portrayal of Johnson as Lennon. I'm not that knowledgeable about Beatles history, so there were a couple surprises. The real photos from John Lennon's life just before the end credits were a treat as well.

- hypathio7, Wednesday, October 20, 2010