Thursday, October 21, 2010

Real Unreal

"Right -- everyone stop f**king crying, this is supposed to be a rock'n'roll band for chrissakes."

The short post:
I saw Nowhere Boy and then absolutely had to try to draw some early Lennon-McCartney. The suits are not stage garb but funeral garb. Enough spoilers (LOL SPOILERS FOR LENNON'S LIFE), The End.

THE LONG POST (skippable:)
Yay, I finally got to see Nowhere Boy *yeee!* I was eager for this movie because a] like approximately 3/4 of Earthlings I am a Beatles fan, and b] I especially love early Beatles history. Somehow it just can't seem to get old no matter how many times I read about it :) (...Which is a good thing for this movie considering that nothing about it can really surprise the viewer.) They are a unique, myth. A world unto themselves.

Nowhere Boy is more about Lennon's relationship with his mother Julia and his aunt Mimi than forming the band, but that stuff is equally fascinating, and a perfect vehicle for the type of life-affirming drama that the Brits whip up in their sleep. Nowhere Boy didn't disappoint.

Very few movies other than the "actual Beatles-movies" have been made about the band, but the one Nowhere Boy can be compared to -- favourably, I'm glad to say! -- is Backbeat.
What Backbeat has going for it, is that it focuses on Stuart Sutcliffe, whose mannerisms and appearance have not become part of the public consciousness like The Beatles themselves have, so the viewer can enjoy Stephen Dorff's very capable performance without being distracted by an inner voice nagging "this is so far from the real thing."
Since the same is true of Mimi and Julia, who are the two most important characters of Nowhere Boy next to Lennon, and since the script's dramatizations of oft-documented events from Lennon's boyhood are very confident and unflourished, there's hardly anything to make you doubt it could all have happened exactly in the manner that the film portrays.

Inevitably, the kids portraying the young Beatles don't look or sound like the originals, but they are excellent actors -- and if the movie is more about finding your mom than finding your future rock icon buddies, what matters is whether you have the emotional acting chops. In that respect the whole cast delivers. Some reviews had claimed that the other cast members can't keep up with Kristin Scott Thomas, but I thought the performances were amazing throughout. I confess that when I first heard about the film I was confused about why they had cast Aaron Johnson as Lennon, because -- shame on me! -- I mistook him for an American since he'd been chosen for Kick-Ass!
Johnson was actually the film's surprise, because even though it's a little hard to imagine him as Lennon, the compact, charming script combined with his moving performance makes you buy him as simply an (for all intents and purposes) orphaned, insecure kid.

Of course knowing about the future ahead spices up the experience considerably, but still, I'm willing to bet that even if you don't know a thing about The Beatles (in which case, Congratulations on your first day back from cryo-freeze!) or don't find the band interesting, you will still think "What a relatable and captivating story" after watching this. Made me cry a ton too. OK, so I cry at many movies, but this was the biggest cry-fest since Toy Story 3.

In fact the quote at the beginning of this post came right on the heels of a big upheaval in the movie, where a couple of the characters teared up as well (with me leaking silently in the audience). Johnson ordered everybody to "stop f**king crying", which was one of the most characteristic moments about this movie: laughter through tears (oooh dammit I'm sorry about the cliche!) and all such...

I will so see it again and am recommending it to you. :)

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