Turin fest opens with surprising biopic Nowhere Boy
by Gabriele Barcaro
16/11/2009 - For the second year in a row, the Turin Film Festival (November 13-21) opens with a biopic. A year after Oliver Stone’s relentless W., the 27th edition of the festival kicks off with Nowhere Boy [trailer] (in the Festa Mobile section), the debut feature by Sam Taylor-Wood.
The films are fuelled by the same desire to relate the lesser known chapters of two biographies – in the former, George W. Bush, in the latter, John Lennon – but their similarities end there. Because the story of the Beatles frontman is a “portrait of the artist as a young man” about his private life.
Before creating (and later disbanding) the most famous quartet of the 1960s, Lennon – played by blue-eyed Aaron Johnson, a cross between Zac Efron of Hairspray and Tom Welling of Smallville – was a young rake who hated the round glasses that would later become part of his iconic image. He was raised by his strict aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas, who repeats the sternness of her character in Easy Virtue [trailer]) before being reunited at the age of 15 with Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), the mother who abandoned him as a child, a very fragile woman behind her vivacious façade, who passed on to her beloved son his passion for Elvis (“You know what rock’n’roll is? Sex”).
The heart of the film is an unexpected Lennon, his hair gelled in imitation of his rock’n’roll idol. The Fab Four, however, is not far off, especially after he meets a guitarist named Paul, who is even younger and more talented than Lennon. But the film – based on the book Imagine This by Lennon’s half-sister, Julia Baird – ends before the birth of the Beatles, on the eve of the trip to Hamburg that would mark the band’s destiny.
However, this film is not about the Beatles’ history. It is a universal story of an adolescence like many others, whose screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh (who wrote the film on the life Ian Curtis of Joy Division in Control [trailer]) avoids the social and political context of 1950s Liverpool. It was shot with a sobriety so stiff at times that it suffocates the visual potential of the director, better known as one of the most celebrated figures of international contemporary art.
Produced by Ecosse Films in association with Film4, the UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund, NorthWest Vision and Media, Lip Sync Productions and Aver Media, Nowhere Boy comes out in the UK on December 25. In Italy it will be distributed by 01.
(Translated from Italian)