John and Yoko: A Love Story (1985)

When John Lennon was assassinated in 1980, a grief-stricken public rose him to a level of sainthood. Five years later, this biopic shifts the halo to his widow Yoko Ono. Though the subsequent depiction of Lennon may be more accurate than the way his fans may want to remember him, it is told in such a flat and insipid manner that the film reduces the ex-Beatle to little more than a self-indulgent, adulterous drunk.

After abruptly dealing with John and Yoko’s lives immediately before they meet, this apparently passionless pair begin their affair when John falls for Yoko’s art. Using significant events in the Beatles oeuvre to serve as a mere backdrop for John endlessly telling Yoko how much he likes her, the Fab Four are eventually dispensed with so that couple’s relationship can be more fully explored. There’s Yoko’s agonising pursuit of her daughter from her first marriage; Yoko’s stoicism in the face of John’s infidelities; Yoko’s rediscovery as a trendsetting vocalist for New-Wave music. Wait! What!

It should come as no surprise to learn that Yoko was heavily involved in this biopic’s production, nixing a first draft of the script that depicted too much drug use and recasting the lead because the actor shared a similar name to Lennon’s assassin. In his place, Mark McGann provides not so much the naughty boy who campaigned for peace but rather a spoilt brat who just wants to fight. Kim Miyori fares much better as Yoko Ono while the actors portraying Paul, George and Ringo look increasingly ridiculous sporting obviously fake facial hair. 

The biopic’s main redeeming feature is the music yet even here the choice of material is frustrating, with Lennon’s contributions to his last album ‘Double Fantasy’ given as much time as Ono’s ‘Kiss Kiss Kiss’ and 'Walking on Thin Ice'. Despite the filmmaker’s best efforts, one remains grateful that Yoko’s vocals were muted in ‘Instant Karma!’, which like many other of Lennon's post-Beatles' hits, doesn’t even get an airing.

Mark McGann, John Lennon, Kim Miyori, Yoko Ono, Kenneth Price
Mark McGann
Mark McGann

as John Lennon

Kim Miyori
Kim Miyori

as Yoko Ono

Kenneth Price
Kenneth Price

as Paul McCartney

Peter Capaldi
Peter Capaldi

as George Harrison

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John Sinclair, George Martin, Lou Hirsch, Allen Klein, Catherine Strauss

Biopic’s accuracy is not so much a question of truthfulness but rather one of bias. For example, one could mistake Lennon’s relationship with May Pang as little more than a one-night stand, whereas in actuality they were intimate for at least 18 months and remained in touch until his death.

Paul McCartney, Peter Capaldi, George Harrison, Phillip Walsh, Ringo Starr

Movie recreates several incidents captured in the Beatles film Let It Be (1969)

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