Nowhere Boy

Rated 3.0

That title’s just too irresistible to be entirely accurate. The real Beatle backgrounder on offer here, in director Sam Taylor-Wood’s respectable if not indelible account of John Lennon’s teenage years, is for Lennon’s song “Mother.” For better and worse, it is a rather reserved account. Screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh, who also wrote Control, the movie about Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, works from the memoir by Lennon’s half-sister Julia Baird, splitting the difference between modern-day biopic bombast and British kitchen-sink realism of yore. The performances—by Aaron Johnson as our hero, Anne-Marie Duff as his nutty mum, Kristin Scott Thomas as his punctilious aunt, and Thomas Sangster as his Paul McCartney—are skillful, but cumulatively perfunctory. Putting aside the basic problem that Lennon became more interesting later in life, it still somehow just doesn’t seem right that a film of his formative years should fade from memory so easily.