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Old Apr 08, 2012, 11:45 AM   #1
Snoopy66
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Question Nowhere Boy: positive & negative thoughts

I just watched the movie "Nowhere Boy" with mixed feelings. Now I wonder how other John-fans felt in general after having seen it. My point is not to discuss the factual errors, but the message of this movie and the picture it paints from John and his family.

For instance, it shows clearly how uncomfortable, almost shy John behaved in presence of Julia. I found that very strange because I never read that John behaved or felt like that when he was with his mom. I believed that he felt at ease with Julia. Furthermore, the actress Ann-Marie Duff is acting like a rollicking college-girl, which I found quite disturbing. I mean, Julia was known for being "youngish", but the Julia in "Nowhere Boy" just acts childish (and badly, but that's only my personal view).

Any thoughts ?

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Old Apr 08, 2012, 11:59 AM   #2
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I am due for another watching (but I'll be seeing George's doc before that, Maia ), however my feelings on that film are so emotional. I adore the movie for so many reasons, but mainly because it gave such an in-depth depiction of John and the crises he was dealing with at such a young age. How this instilled so much of that genius within him...

I love the focus on his relationships- with Pete, Mimi, his mother, Paul. I love the realness of his character. John wasn't a 'light and fluffy' person, and this film isn't a 'light and fluffy' biopic. It's very tinged in darkness, and there is so much in terms of emotional resonance here.

I'll watch it again soon. After the George doc of course! Now, who does everyone think was depicted the most accurately?
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Old Apr 08, 2012, 12:35 PM   #3
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I Nowhere Boy!

I really try not to think of it as a Beatles film or as a film that depicts John's childhood accurately... I think it really captures the whole spirit of the times, though. To me, it is a very powerful and emotional film that beautifully portrays a sensitive but confused young man caught in a very emotional triangle with two opposing forces tugging at him... which, as an interpretation of John's emotional development, I feel is quite accurate.

We often think about all the losses John suffered and the rejection he felt from his parents as the defining characteristics of his childhood, but this tug of war between Julia and Mimi also played a huge part and must have created a great deal of anxiety for him.

There are so many wonderful things about his film... the cinematography, the costumes, the set decoration, etc... but it was the ACTING that stood out the most for me. Anne-Marie Duff, Aaron Johnson, and Kristin Scott-Thomas were all fantastic, imo.

I feel all the portrayals were very evocative of the characters. Accurate? Who knows? But they certainly captured the essences quite well.

I've heard several people take issue with the portrayal of Julia, but I think it completely gibes with everything we know of her. I add to the mix John's adult personality... so Julia's makes complete sense to me. To me, she comes off as a very lovely, loving, but troubled person. She is completely sympathetic... you feel for her. She loves to have fun, but she also loves her kids and family... and she obviously has a bit of trouble managing it all. (Of course in Nowhere Boy, Sam Taylor-Wood implies that Julia was bipolar... which I don't want to open up a debate about, but I happen to agree with. Again, my opinion is based on intelligent observation, not random, emotional conjecture.)

All in all, the film is a solid 9 out of 10 for me. Love it! Just wish it had been a bit longer... 90 minutes is too short.
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Old Apr 08, 2012, 12:43 PM   #4
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The actors were all superb. I think that stands out first and foremost, because there are far too many of these biopics made with the lamest/cheesiest of actors. Like the actors in Backbeat and the John in that STUPID Two Of Us film. In fact, Nowhere Boy stands out for me because it was the FIRST time I saw a John or Beatles-related film with actors that actually seemed like real people, not caricatures of what we think these people are supposed to be like.
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Old Apr 08, 2012, 01:25 PM   #5
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In fact, Nowhere Boy stands out for me because it was the FIRST time I saw a John or Beatles-related film with actors that actually seemed like real people, not caricatures of what we think these people are supposed to be like.
Yes, exactly! They were real actors who were chosen for their skill and artistry, not because their nose was similar. It irks me no end when people say, "Well, I kind of liked Nowhere Boy but the guy who played John was too handsome and the actor playing Paul was not attractive enough."

AUGH!! But their acting was excellent!! Isn't that more important in a film??
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Old Apr 09, 2012, 06:16 AM   #6
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I am due for another watching (but I'll be seeing George's doc before that, Maia ), however my feelings on that film are so emotional. I adore the movie for so many reasons, but mainly because it gave such an in-depth depiction of John and the crises he was dealing with at such a young age. How this instilled so much of that genius within him...

I'll watch it again soon. After the George doc of course! Now, who does everyone think was depicted the most accurately?
Oh yes, please Scruffie, do watch this movie again !! I have quite much to say about this movie. I get emotinal feelings too about, although I'm not that enthousiastic about.

In the first part, I think that the most accurate actors are aunt Mimi (to me the best actress of the movie) and John's friend Pete (at least, he physically looks much like him).

Twitchy is also well-played, although I'm not sure if he really was so distant with John; sometimes he looks even annoyed when John comes to visit Julia. Was that so ??

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Old Apr 09, 2012, 06:43 AM   #7
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I Nowhere Boy!

I really try not to think of it as a Beatles film or as a film that depicts John's childhood accurately... I think it really captures the whole spirit of the times, though. To me, it is a very powerful and emotional film that beautifully portrays a sensitive but confused young man caught in a very emotional triangle with two opposing forces tugging at him... which, as an interpretation of John's emotional development, I feel is quite accurate.

We often think about all the losses John suffered and the rejection he felt from his parents as the defining characteristics of his childhood, but this tug of war between Julia and Mimi also played a huge part and must have created a great deal of anxiety for him.

There are so many wonderful things about his film... the cinematography, the costumes, the set decoration, etc... but it was the ACTING that stood out the most for me. Anne-Marie Duff, Aaron Johnson, and Kristin Scott-Thomas were all fantastic, imo.

I feel all the portrayals were very evocative of the characters. Accurate? Who knows? But they certainly captured the essences quite well.

I've heard several people take issue with the portrayal of Julia, but I think it completely gibes with everything we know of her. I add to the mix John's adult personality... so Julia's makes complete sense to me. To me, she comes off as a very lovely, loving, but troubled person. She is completely sympathetic... you feel for her. She loves to have fun, but she also loves her kids and family... and she obviously has a bit of trouble managing it all. (Of course in Nowhere Boy, Sam Taylor-Wood implies that Julia was bipolar... which I don't want to open up a debate about, but I happen to agree with. Again, my opinion is based on intelligent observation, not random, emotional conjecture.)

All in all, the film is a solid 9 out of 10 for me. Love it! Just wish it had been a bit longer... 90 minutes is too short.
Thank's for your detailed feedback Maia, your opinion as a "diehard" John-fan like me, reallly matters to me

Of course, I'd also be very interested in the opinions of 4iii's, Fly and Wildewoman

I agree with you that it captures the whole spirit of the time. Yes, it portrays the sensitive and confused John. But what I miss is that John's wit and aggressivity (and he was aggressive) isn't showed clear enough to me. He looks more smart than a rebel, but John was through and through a rebel in his teenager-years.

You know, I have problems with those big blue eyes of Aaron. Of course, they are beautiful, but John didn't have such eyes. He had slight, brown almond-eyes and he often had a arrogant pose with his chin. I miss that, but maybe I'm just to fussy. And this black hair, OMG. John had brown-auburn hair, not so dark. Fortunately, Aaron plays his role better than I expected, still...

Do you really think that Anne-Marie Duff plays the part of Julia that good ? First, she looks faaaar to young for being John's mom (I know she was young, but not that much) and John is taller than her, but I think that Julia was a tall woman with beautiful, full auburn hair (I picture myself her as a kind of Rita Hayword, it may be exaggerated, but oh well....). Further, I don't like her outburst, like screaming when she sees John "You are my dream"... or in that bar when she whispers to John "Rock'n'Roll is sex", oh dear....

Well, that's my problem: Julia is too sympathetic and I don't like that because I don't think that she was that troubled person they want us to believe in the movie. Oh dear, she may be bipolar too ?? OMG, seems to be a very infectious illness in John's family No seriously, Julia was unstable, obviously not very mature and she behaved more than a sister to John, than a mother. But she wasn't "ill" to me and had also qualities, which are not shown in the movie.

Like it sounds false to me when Mimi shouts at John that he would be in a children-home without her. I just can't imagine, that Mimi actually ever said that to her beloved nephew.

Actually, I'm pretty surprised that the movie is based on Julia Baird's book; as I can't relate too much from it, although I adore Julia Baird's book...

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Old Apr 09, 2012, 06:16 PM   #8
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Well, that's my problem: Julia is too sympathetic and I don't like that because I don't think that she was that troubled person they want us to believe in the movie. ... But she wasn't "ill" to me and had also qualities, which are not shown in the movie.
I think this illustrates a very fundamental difference of opinion among Lennon fans. Some people think that John was within the "normal" range psychologically speaking, and others of us believe he was actually a deeply troubled individual. And it seems that rift carries on to the thinking about Julia.

However, now we have physical evidence that Julia was thought of as "crazy." Of course, we know that in many families someone is dubbed the "crazy one" just because they are not like the rest... but oftentimes, they are the ones with actual serious issues... and I believe Julia had them. After all, why else would she have been convinced (or forced?) to let Mimi bring John up?
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Old Apr 09, 2012, 07:13 PM   #9
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Default Famous Bipolar people

Louis Prima
Rosemary Clooney
Linda Hamilton
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Patti Duke
Richard Dreyfuss
Jeremy Brett
Dick Cavett
Patricia Cornwell
Russell Brand
Kurt Cobain...

The list goes on and on. Look, I don't think it's much of a stretch to suspect John Lennon was bipolar, and I don't look at it as a character flaw, just unfortunate genetics and unbalanced brain chemistry.

I think the Stanleys were all a little bit off their feed, to be honest. John's half-sister Jacqui was a heroin addict, just like her half-brother. The whole Fishwick episode with Mimi is odd, and Mimi putting the dog Sally down in a fit of rage at John was not "normal" behavior either. I don't know much about the other aunts...but it would be interesting to research that family with disinterested eyes to see what one finds.

A lot of the stories you hear about some of John's more bizarre behavior doesn't make a lot of sense, until you assume that, maybe, perhaps, he was bipolar. Then some of the weirder stories make all sorts of sense.

Which doesn't begin to address my feelings about the movie, which I think expressed deep emotional truths about John's upbringing, even if it was not 100% factually accurate.

BTW, Julia was no taller than 5'2". She was NOT a tall woman. She may have resembled Rita Hayworth with the red hair and the cheekbones, but she was not tall.

I actually think the movie was gentler than it could have been.

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Old Apr 09, 2012, 08:01 PM   #10
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BTW, Julia was no taller than 5'2". She was NOT a tall woman.
Fact.

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I actually think the movie was gentler than it could have been.
I agree completely. That's what I meant by saying Julia came off as sympathetic (and Mimi did too, btw).

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and I don't look at it as a character flaw, just unfortunate genetics and unbalanced brain chemistry.
Right on, sister! And there are so many highly productive and accomplished people you can keep adding to that list... including Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most brilliant human beings to grace this Earth!
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Old Apr 09, 2012, 11:33 PM   #11
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Some people think that John was within the "normal" range psychologically speaking, and others of us believe he was actually a deeply troubled individual.
Yeah, that's it.
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 12:41 AM   #12
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I also deeply appreciated the acting. Aaron Johnson and Thomas...whatever his last name is--must have studied films of John and Paul, because they both picked up their mannerisms and inhabited the characters without becoming over-the-top impressions of them. They seemed like real flesh-and-blood people, not stereotyped cartoons. Scruff's assessment is dead-on. "Nowhere Boy" was the first dramatization of the life of John Lennon, or the Beatles, that has pulled that off.

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Old Apr 16, 2012, 07:02 AM   #13
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I thought the acting was extremely good and the "mood" of the piece was consistent and affecting, but I can't say I enjoyed the movie. Maybe it was the fact that I saw it at 11:30 at night at Beatlefest, when we're normally all in a pretty festive/party mood and we all kind of walked out of the theatre drained and depressed. I might like to see it again under different conditions and see if I like it better, but I just came out of it feeling draggy and blah.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 12:01 PM   #14
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Default Well, poor John's life was not exactly the stuff of which happy stories are made...

As the aging angsty, sturn-und-drang, depresso- woman I am, I can pick it out in others and I have to tell you, even before his tragic death I picked up a similar vibe in him...

But I can understand that if you want to have a fun time, that movie is probably a huge downer.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 12:42 PM   #15
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But I can understand that if you want to have a fun time, that movie is probably a huge downer.
Well, I can't say I thought it would be a "fun time"...I am, after all, fairly familiar with the subject matter, but yeah, in general, I base my opinions of entertainment vehicles mostly on "Did I enjoy it?" That doesn't mean it has to be a happy movie (and, by the way, I never bought the whole stereotype that angsty = deep/intelligent and happy = shallow/stupid, but that's a whole other conversation) for me to enjoy it; I've enjoyed lots of sad/tearjerker/dramatic/horrifying movies, but I just didn't really enjoy this one. I can't put my finger on quite why, it just was an unpleasant experience emotionally, though intellectually, I could appreciate certain things about it. Like I said though, it could just have been the cognitive dissonance with the general atmosphere of where/when I saw it, so I would be willing to give it another chance. Maybe I'll drink too much tequila and listen to some depressing music first this time.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 04:53 PM   #16
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Default Oh gosh, I didn't mean to suggest I thought happy people are shallow or stupid!

No!

I think Carl Sagan was a basically happy guy. So was Albert Einstein, as far as I know.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 04:57 PM   #17
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And I didn't mean to suggest that you suggested that. But many have.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 05:04 PM   #18
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we all kind of walked out of the theatre drained and depressed. I might like to see it again under different conditions and see if I like it better, but I just came out of it feeling draggy and blah.
lol ~ My sister's comment after she saw the film was, "Oh, I loved it! Great film, great acting. But why was it sunny every day? Wasn't it supposed to be in Liverpool?" Ha, I tried to explain to her that it was shot on site, but it didn't sway her.

Sunny? Hmmm... my one criticism of the movie goes along with what you were saying. It's a bit lugubrious.... not at all sunny, imo.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 05:33 PM   #19
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Ok, I'll grant it wouldn't have killed the filmmaker to put in bit more of John and Julia's humour. Althought I guess that was more of a script issue. Maia, did the original script show more of that?

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Old Apr 16, 2012, 05:41 PM   #20
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But why was it sunny every day? Wasn't it supposed to be in Liverpool?"
LOL, I think it's hilarious that people who've never been there think it's such a dark, dank, depressing place. I've been there 4 or 5 times and I've had GORGEOUS weather and the people there are wonderful and not all dark and depressing. Of course, this is my experience in the 1980's through 2008, not in the 50's...
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