Lennon Naked (2010)
Unlike the earlier Nowhere Boy, which focused on the adolescent Lennon’s relationship with his mother and Aunt Mimi, Lennon Naked covers the impact of his father’s reappearance after the Beatles became famous. Squeezed in during a break in the filming of A Hard Day’s Night, the reunion is strained. Though Freddie is keen to explain the reasoning for his absence over the last 17 years, John doesn’t want to hear it, still bitter for being deserted. It is a bitterness that permeates this portrayal.
Following a brief montage of Beatles footage leading up to the death of Brian Epstein, John reaches out to his father and moves him into his house. The relationship between the two remains tense and soon Freddie leaves his son once again. As fragments of Lennon’s life play out, John appears to be someone who is more eager to fight rather than campaign for peace. Yet it his affair with Yoko Ono and divorce from Cynthia that underscores his indifference to abandoning his own son, Julian.
Determined to show a different side of Lennon than the sainthood thrust upon him after his murder in 1980, director Edmund Coulthard and writer Robert Jones seem intent on depicting the singer’s shortcomings at the expense of all other facets of his character. Unfortunately, this is exaggerated by the age of the actor portraying the role. Though Christopher Eccleston’s impressive performance captures Lennon’s biting wit, at 46 he is considerably older than Lennon was at this (or any other) time in his life. Consequently, Lennon's fearless youth becomes as an angry old git.
Though the use of original Beatles music is an asset, there are no depictions of the Fab Four creating or performing their work, limiting their appearances to press conferences and boardroom meetings. We are however treated to John and Yoko creating music. It appears that in this “warts and all” depiction of Lennon, the filmmakers forgot the “and all”.
as John Lennon
as Yoko Ono
as Paul McCartney
as Ringo Starr
Biopic opens with the following disclaimer -
The following drama is based on real events, although some scenes are the invention of the writer.
Biopic depicts an oft-told version of John’s separation from his father as a flickering memory of his childhood. However, a friend of Freddie recalled the event differently in Mark Lewisohn’s book ‘The Beatles - All These Years: Volume One: Tune In’ -
[John’s parents] needed privacy, so we let them go into the front room… which my mother kept spotless. They talked maybe half an hour and then [Freddie] came out and said, “I’m letting Johnny go back with his mother – she’s going to look after him properly”… I really can’t remember if Johnny was in there too… but there was definitely no tug-of-love scene.