Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
United Kingdom/Canada, 2009. Ecosse Films, Film4, UK Film Council, Aver Media, North West Vision, Lipsync Productions. Screenplay by Matt Greenhalgh, based on the memoir of Julia Baird. Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey. Produced by Robert Bernstein, Kevin Loader, Douglas Rae. Music by Alison Goldfrapp, Will Gregory. Production Design by Alice Normington. Costume Design by Julian Day. Film Editing by Lisa Gunning.
The origin of a legend is explored in this film that details the rough teen years of future music icon John Lennon, who was raised from the age of five by his aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas) while his mother (Anne-Marie Duff) went on to marry another man and have more children. After the death of his beloved uncle George, sixteen year-old John (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) finds out that his mother lives nearby and reconstructs a relationship with her; her mercurial nature and spirited sense of fun appeal to him after years with the emotionally repressed, stiff-upper-lipness of his aunt. It isn’t long before young John must discover dark family secrets that will help him deal with far more than just his past, but also solidify who he is and who he will become. Just to make sure fans aren’t disappointed, we also get a thorough glimpse at his burgeoning interest in music via an Elvis Presley obsession and his meeting with a much tamer teenager named Paul with whom he begins to bust out tunes, but this film is not a music biography at all; director Sam Taylor-Wood has made an immensely enjoyable and, shockingly, deeply moving account of hearts broken and mended, ignoring the tired clichés of movies like Walk The Line and moving well beyond the usual route of scandal-sheet curiosities. It’s great to know that the character we’re watching will eventually become one of the most famous figures of the twentieth century, but this is a coming-of-age film about a young man who learns about his strengths. As his deeply loving but incredibly stern aunt Mimi, Scott Thomas has one of her best roles in years, speaking volumes with just a raised eyebrow or a tight smile and giving the film so much of its emotional resonance. The eventual result of their struggle proves to be exceptionally heartfelt and sweet.