Thursday, 24 June 2010


Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston proves once again that he's one of the greatest British living actors with Lennon Naked, a beautiful one-off 90-minute drama.

« Are you happy, John? »

Lennon Naked is about John Lennon's transition from Beatle to enduring icon, between 1967 to 1971, under the specific angle of his relationship with his father and its consequences on the artist's life. The film is part of the Fatherhood season on BBC Four, celebrating fatherhood in an historical and contemporary context through documentary, science, drama, and entertainment programmes.

Shot on a shoestring budget in an impressive 18 days, Lennon Naked is not a biopic but a period drama on a son separated from his father at the age of 6 and reunited with him 17 years later. The film is carried by a solid script of Party Animals's creator Robert Jones, a clever direction by Edmund Coulthard (who produces with his company Blast! Films) and a performance of Christopher Eccleston which deserves a BAFTA, no less.

Eccleston manages to evoke vocally and physically John Lennon without trying to impersonate him (the actor is older than Lennon when he died). He incarnates with absolute perfection a man eaten by melancholy, whose search for happiness leads him to burn bridges with his family, his band and his country. An arrogant and selfish genius (« An artist has to destroy as well as create ») who didn't learn from his broken childhood.

Only Japanese artist Yoko Ono brings a beginning of serenity to easily snarky Lennon. Ex-Torchwood regular Naoko Mori's Yoko is delicate and moving, far from the "Dragon Lady" stereotype. Christopher Fairbank plays Alfred "Freddie" Lennon, John's estranged father. The other Beatles are reduced to almost silhouettes but the biggest frustration comes from the formidable but short performance of Rory Kinnear as Brian Epstein, fragile manager of the band.

Lennon Naked stops in September 1971 when Yoko Ono and John Lennon leave Britain for New York, "the Rome of Today". Their plane takes off in the terrible echo of a jounalist's question: « What about your son? »

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