Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who
) stars as one of the most enduring and enigmatic figures of the 20th Century, John Lennon, in this riveting drama. One quarter of “The Fab Four,” peace activist, visual artist, and author, John Lennon was a man whose personal life was never short on drama, intrigue and eventually, conspiracy. Thirty years after his death, Lennon Naked
presents an inside look at the hugely popular musician as he moved from a Beatle to an icon. It covers a period of wildly fluctuating fortunes from 1964 to 1971, a time of worldwide adulation at one extreme but a combination of frustration and despair at the other. From the death of father-figure and manager Brian Epstein, his break-up with first wife Cynthia and his fascinating love affair with Yoko Ono, through to his spiraling drug use and decision to leave England for New York, this is the story of an artist destroying everything to find himself.
Director Edmund Coulthard and writer Robert Jones teamed up to tackle this entertaining yet sensational account of John Lennon's life, Lennon Naked
, which aired on the BBC and in Japan before making its way to America. This fictionalized biography takes up subject matter surrounding Lennon's thorny relationship with his alcoholic father, Freddie Lennon (Christopher Fairbank), and attempts to psychoanalyze Lennon's life decisions, up to his leaving the Beatles and teaming up with Yoko Ono (Naoko Mori), based on his childhood dramas. The feature is all about Christopher Eccleston taking on the incredible difficulty of acting the part of such a recognizable icon. He does this in stride, exuding a confidence, indeed a stubbornness that this film's John Lennon succeeds and suffers with. In any biographical story, it's a danger to assume that the viewer comes away knowing a celebrity any better than before, and Lennon Naked
offers such a presumably intimate take on Lennon's personal life that it frequently oversteps the bounds of respectability. For example, after Lennon, in the film, dabbles with drugs and glimpses Yoko, it ties his abandonment of his steadfast but dull, suburban wife, Cynthia Lennon (Claudie Blakley), to his abandonment by his father. Every time, in the film, Lennon leaves someone or is left, flashbacks to his childhood in which his dad bids him adieu on some British pier with balloons wafting into the sky heavy-handedly drive the connection points home. If one can ignore sentimentality like this, one can enjoy the uncanny capabilities of the actors playing the other Beatles, Paul McCartney (Andrew Scott), Ringo Starr (Craig Cheetham), and George Harrison (Jack Morgan), and early on, Brian Epstein (Rory Kinnear), during press meetings or warding off girls in the grips of Beatlemania. Sequenced chronologically, Lennon Naked
begins right before Epstein's death and takes one through Lennon's leaving London for New York. As years flash by, actual vintage footage of the Beatles and of Lennon commingle with the fictional biopic, adding greatly to its credibility. However, be warned: Lennon Naked
is sheer entertainment, not documentary. It's odd to think of an actual person's life providing fodder for fictional narrative, but when it's done well, it can make for some satisfactory viewing to quench die-hard fans who miss this beloved and very talented man who lived in the public eye. --Trinie Dalton