Director: Sam Taylor-Wood
Running time: 98 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK Release date: 25th December 2009
Watched on DVD Saturday 23rd April 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
There have been many films made about The Beatles over the years, but this is the first one that deals solely with the early life of John Lennon. It tells the story of his teenage years, how he was brought up by his aunt Mimi, and how he re-connected with his mother, Julia. The events that ensued had a great influence on John and this goes a long way towards explaining decisions he made later in his life.
Some very strong performances from the leading characters are what make this film very watchable. If the story wasn’t about John Lennon I still believe it would have been a worth-while watch. Not only are we told about John and the emotional turmoil he suffers, but we also witness the beginnings of the band that would become part of music history. We see John being taught the banjo by his mother and we are at the first meeting of John and Paul, and latterly George (Ringo didn’t come along until much later).
At the end of the day, this is very much a character-driven piece, and they are all very different. John is brooding and bursting with potential; Mimi is very straight-laced, but has her heart in the right place, and Julia is very free-spirited. It’s the interaction between these diverse characters that really holds your attention. You can easily forget that it’s about John Lennon at times and just enjoy the drama as it unfolds. At the end of the day, though, it is based on real events and you always have this in the back of your mind.
I have already mentioned the performances, so let’s put some names to faces. Aaron Johnson is really excellent as John Lennon; he’s everything from the cocky Scouser to the angry abandoned son to the brooding teenager. Kristin Scott Thomas does a really great job as Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff is truly excellent as Julia. Honourable mentions must also go to; David Morrissey as Bobby, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Paul, Sam Bell as George, David Threlfall as Uncle George and Josh Bolt as Pete.
Of course, the music in the film is great, a lot of early rock ‘n’ roll classics and a few early songs penned by the boys. I really enjoyed this film, and I guess at this point I should come clean as a Beatles fan. It’s not perfect though, it does jump through time a little bit in places, but you can soon pick up where they are. I guess, if you like the Beatles then it’s worth seeing for the historical aspects, if you’re not a fan, then it’s worth seeing as a damn good drama with some great performances, either way, it’s recommended.
My Score: 7.5/10