Nowhere Boy concerns the late adolescent years of John Lennon, his coming to rock and roll, and the formation of his first band, the Quarrymen, but it’s not so much a music film as a behind-the-music film, fashioning a handsome soap opera out of the iconic singer-songwriter’s biographical back catalog. The film, directed by British photographer and video artist Sam Taylor-Wood and adapted by Matt Greenlagh (Control) from a memoir by Julia Baird, finds the confused Lennon’s allegiance wavering between two maternal figures: his lively mother (Anne-Marie Duff), entering his life after a long and mysterious absence, and his stern aunt (Kristen Scott Thomas, stern as stern can be), who has raised him since he was five. Thankfully, unlike many other real-life-inspired rock-and-roll films, such as this year’s The Runaways, Nowhere Boy doesn’t seem compelled to make a case for the relevance of its subject. Thirty years after his death, in what would have been the year of his 70th birthday, Lennon continues to exert his enormous cultural influence: in addition to the stateside release of Nowhere Boy, the last couple months have seen the New York Film Festival premiere of a tribute documentary called LennonNYC and numerous book and CD reissues. Lennon also still makes national news: in September Mark David Chapman, his murderer, was denied parole for the sixth time. Read Benjamin Mercer’s review of Nowhere Boy.