Lennon Naked (2010) is a critical biopic of John Lennon starting around the time he meets Yoko Ono and ending when they move to New York. This is a straight drama, but nerds will like it for the sheer casting brilliance. Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, Shallow Grave) does a convincing Lennon and carries the film; Naoko Mori (Torchwood) plays odd love interest Yoko Ono; and Andrew Scott (Sherlock) is an eerily perfect Paul McCartney.
You are expected to know some Beatles history because the film takes us into the little-known behind-the-scenes moments, only alluding to the major events everyone remembers. For example, Lennon has a severe reaction to the backlash of his “more popular than Jesus” comment (He throws himself into the pool fully clothed), but the plot never directly shows us the famous moment. Yet, this film is not about Beatlemania. In fact, the other Beatles are barely in it. It’s really a psychoanalysis of John Lennon, trying to decipher why he did what he did–abandoning his wife and child for Yoko Ono, ending the Beatles, embarking on strange new ways to advertise peace. A slow reveal teaches us how he was abandoned by both his parents, but his father’s disappearance in particular was most hurtful, especially when the old man shows up on his doorstep after Lennon’s become famous. Even though you do eventually understand where his behavior comes from, Lennon’s depiction isn’t very sympathetic. You see the way he treats his first wife and the disregard he has for his son Julian, as well as the way he treats his friends and his father who is trying to make amends. Yoko is the only one who doesn’t leave him, and she’s not entirely sympathetic herself in this film. Yes, it’s sad that she has so much trouble in childbearing, but at the same time you remember just how much drugs they took without any regard to how it might affect their child. What you get is an almost moral stance on Lennon’s action of abandoning his son Julian in the same way his father abandoned him. This is a very different perspective than the way America, in particular New York, chooses to remember Lennon.
Warning: There is a bit of nudity in the photo shoot scene, but it’s not excessive.