Eccleston Gets Naked for Lennon Biopic

Posted on June 29, 2010

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Chris Eccleston’s gone time-travelling again. No, that doesn’t mean that TV3 are showing Doctor Who reruns again. Nor does it mean that Chris has succumbed to the pressure from the boys over at Dead Ringers and gone and signed onto any new Star Trek endeavours.

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No, what it actually means is that Chris has taken a trip back to the mid and late 60s to play John Lennon, a man who has already been the subject of another film this year, Nowhere Boy.

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I must admit I’ve always been a fan of Chris Eccleston, from the early days of Shallow Grave and the brilliant Our Friends In The North (playing a character not totally unlike Lennon, as it happens) to the utter crap stuff like Gone In 60 Seconds or G.I Joe, which, at the very least, he manages to be the best thing in it. And then of course, he’s charged with making Doctor Who popular again – no mean feat when you think back to the dying days of that series in the 80s.

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His portrayal of John Lennon is a good one though his age is definitely against him in the earlier scenes, particularly those with the Beatles where it’s quite clear that the others are quite a bit younger than him, particularly Andrew Scott’s pitch perfect Paul McCartney.

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I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of John Lennon and I’m still not having watched Lennon Naked. The story itself, while interspersed with some archival footage, is mainly based on Lennon’s relationships, particularly that with his father with whom he has some abandonment issues. For someone who didn’t know much about Lennon, this docudrama is interesting but it does slow up in the middle after a good opening.

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For a film that is slow and quiet for the most part, the scenes with the press and the rest of the Beatles are really mood lightener though it has to be said neither George nor Ringo get much a speak in, in any of those scenes. Lennon was the talker of the group and Eccleston portrays that cocksure confidence expertly.

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The final confrontation between Lennon and father Freddie, (played wonderfully by Christopher Fairbank) is what the entire film leads up to really. It’s what films like this always hinge on. Character studies, unless they’re of volatile characters can sometimes be very tedious and this one suffers that fate, though the interactions between the two characters are really the breath of fresh air that the film needed, their sporadic appearances lightened the weight of everything else that was happening and by the end of the film, it’s hard to know who’s wrong and who’s right really.

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While it’s clear that there is talent involved, (Eccleston is probably one of the most underrated actors working in TV at the moment) it’s not enough to pull this one through. For people like me, it’s probably a result of my dislike for Lennon. For others, it might be the fact that they suddenly discovered an unlikely cure for insomnia and not even Eccleston and Naoko Mori’s bare arses could shock them back into consciousness.

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The film, like Lennon, had ambition. It’s just a pity Lennon Naked don’t come off right.

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Oh and the soundtrack’s rubbish too.

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Posted in: Reviews