Beatles fans will probably approve of this John Lennon biopic, which deals with his schoolboy years and makes a nice precursor to the Hamburg-centric Backbeat (1994). Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) plays the unhappy teen, Kristin Scott Thomas is the strict auntie who raised him, and Anne-Marie Duff is the good-timey mother who abandoned him in his childhood but now wants back into his life. The events chronicled are all longstanding Beatles legends, though director Sam Taylor-Wood manages to stage even the most portentous moments—like Lennon’s first encounter with Paul McCartney at a church fete—without making you feel a celestial choir is in order. The maternal triangle is pretty well handled too, giving a good sense of where Lennon came by all that exuberance and melancholy.
R • 1 hour 37 min • 2009