Interpreting icons for the big screen isn't always a great idea. I'm still recovering from the moment in Cadillac Records where 5 scruffy herberts with plentiful hair rock up to the studio and announce in jarring Mockney tones: "'Ullo... we're the bleedin' Rowling Stownes ain't we" (or something like that.) We're so used to seeing/hearing the real famous people that we feel like we know them already. Movie adaptations are only likely to disappoint.
Posh British artist Sam Taylor-Wood's now had a go at 50s-era John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, with the help of the fella who wrote Control (about Joy Division's Ian Curtis). Here's what you need to know:
1. Even though Sam Taylor-Wood is a 'modern artist' (**the sound of Daily Mail readers getting irate**) this is actually a very mainstream film. Straightforward, clear and classy. It's specifically focused on Lennon aged 15/16, chronicling his relationship with his prissy Auntie Mimi (Kristin Scott-Thomas), who raised him, and his troubled mum Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) who gave him up when he was 5. Basically, both women want to mother him. He just wants to have fun.
Oh... he also meets some bloke called... now what was it... Paul... Paul... Paul Something-Or-Other.
2. The acting is SUPERB. Aaron Johnson as is astounding as JL, full of energy, dreams and laughs. So many laughs. His teen life may have been hard but his gallows humour kept spirits high. Johnson really does create someone unique, someone like you've never seen before. If that's not credit to Lennon, then I dunno what it. Anne-Marie Duff and Kristin Scott-Thomas are also perfect as chalk-and-cheese sisters. Only KS-T can make the eating of soup look so threatening in one lunch scene.
3. It avoids cheesiness. The first meeting with McCartney (oh yeah, that was his name) is sweet, rather than obviously monumental. Thomas Brodie Sangster as Macca is also nicely restrained. And the re-naming of their band from The Quarrymen to The Beatles is so subtle that the latter are never even mentioned.
4. So it's defo worth seeing. A real celebration of the vibrancy of youth, the power of new and exciting music and how both have helped teenagers throughout the years cope with difficult times. If it is a little TV-movie looking in parts, the acting takes it way beyond, well into awards territory.
Nowhere Boy is out 26th December.