I have to profess my bias before I write this review. I was a Beatlemaniac (and still am). This is a terrifically entertaining movie. But what was jarring for me was that Aaron Johnson, playing John Lennon, looks ten years older than Thomas Sangster, who plays Paul McCartney. It was a surprise to learn that they were both born in 1990, so are both the same age. Still, since Lennon was only a year older than McCartney, the appearance of a huge age discrepancy between the two in the film was disconcerting for me. This is a movie and appearances are important.
But McCartney is a minor character in this film. This is the story of Lennon’s relationship with his mother and aunt. Set in Liverpool in 1955, John is caught between the two women who clash over him, Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), the charming, devil-may-care mother who gave the infant, John, away to her sister Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), the uptight Aunt who raised him. While the film shows John forming the band that warped into The Beatles, the film is mostly about Lennon and his relationship with the two mother-figures in his life.
Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi starting about his fifth year. She was a strict person who encouraged him to apply himself to his school work and wanted him to grow up as a middle-class boy. His birth mother, Julia, came back into his life when he was 15. She apparently showed him rock ‘n’ roll and taught him to play the banjo, the forerunner of learning the guitar. She was the catalyst for sparking the talent of expressing his feelings through music.
The producers claim that they drew the script from “a variety of impeccable sources,” and that its authenticity is “endorsed by those who knew John Lennon best (including his childhood pals depicted in the movie).”
It’s an interesting, entertaining film that opens new doors in understanding Lennon and the strange person he became, but don’t go anticipating a Beatles concert because this film is not about the music.