Nowhere Boy

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Short takes

Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Adult themes. Lacks interest for younger viewers)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Nowhere Boy
  • a review of Nowhere Boy completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 December 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to lack of interest and adult themes.
Children 13-14 Parental guidance recommended due to lack of interest and adult themes.
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Nowhere Boy
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Coarse language, mature themes and sex scene
Length: 97 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Nowhere Boy is the story of John Lennon’s early life and childhood. John (Aaron Johnson) was abandoned by his mother at the age of five and brought up by his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas). As a teenager, John has difficulties coping with this fact and often recalls troublesome events from his early childhood. This is exacerbated when he discovers his Mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) is living not far from him with a new family.

Julia Lennon is a musically creative woman who inspires John, but she is emotionally unstable and also has a detrimental effect on him. John’s inner turmoil and search for identity often land him in trouble and he is suspended from school for bringing pornography into the classroom. He finds pleasure in music and art and starts up a rock’n roll band at the age of 17 when he meets the gifted Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster). John eventually learns the truth about his past and the tragedy of his Mother’s life.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Dysfunctional families; Abandonment of a child

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A youth threatens John with a knife, drawing it around his face.
  • John gets the cane at school.
  • Aunt Mimi throws an object at John.
  • Julia Lennon has a verbal fight with her current partner about John.
  • John breaks a washboard over a band member’s head.
  • Julia Lennon is knocked down by a car and killed.
  • John gets angry at his mother’s funeral and punches another boy. He then punches Paul.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • John has flashbacks from his early childhood which portray a very sad and scared child.
  • John’s Uncle George collapses and dies of a heart attack.
  • Julia Lennon is shown dead on the ground with her eyes open and staring.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Talk about rock’n roll being a euphemism for sex.
  • Julia Lennon has several different relationships with men after she married John’s father.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • There is a sex scene between John and a girl and oral sex is implied.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • frequent smoking by all the leading characters throughout the movie
  • drinking at home, in pubs and at various venues.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • fuck
  • shit
  • piss
  • bloody

In a nutshell

Nowhere Boy is a biographical drama of John Lennon’s early life. It is quite gritty and very well portrays the era he grew up in, a post-war Britain in the throes of great social change.

The main message from this movie is that people are able to succeed in life and overcome difficulties that have arisen from a traumatic childhood.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Violence is not a good way to solve problems nor is it a good thing to take out one’s frustrations on other people.