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John Lennon: Love is All You Need Review

I am not going to tell you about this movie from a perspective of a Beatles aficionado — because I am not. Nor am I going to inform you about the subtle yet effective documentary techniques exemplified in this film, because I don't know them. What I will do, however, is give you a take on John Lennon: Love is All You Need from the perspective of a young American, perhaps like yourself, that believes films are best enjoyed while you are at home, lounging in your underwear. So now that the disclaimer is done, let's get into the good stuff.

If you are choosing to watch this film, you are more than likely: a) a middle-aged adult b) a Beatles loving pop-culture highbrow, or c) a Netflix binge user that has exhausted all of their other options. Fortunately, if you are in category c, or on the younger end of category b, I am here to inform you that you will not last 10 minutes into this film. The film starts off slow —very slow —like watching ice melt just might be more entertaining, slow. However, once your eyes adjust to the grainy b-roll, and once your mind grasps that the entire film will be a spliced together medley of interviews from Lennon's closest loved ones, you will slowly begin to appreciate and enjoy an amazing biography of a global cultural icon.

With testimonials from estranged loved ones, and insights into who Lennon was behind closed doors, the film fits all the criteria of a good VH1 Behind the Music Special— and who doesn't love a good Behind the Music special? Cynthia Lennon, John's first wife, introduces the start of the conflicts that would begin in John, and The Beatles, astronomical rise to fame. For those of you who are Beatles fans, or just know how to make good use of context clues, are well aware that Cynthia was not the only woman in John's life. Despite agreeing to keep their marriage, and her pregnancy, a guarded secret at the start of Lennon's career, Cynthia would find that in the end, his love songs would inevitably be dedicated to an artist by the name of Yoko Ono.

This film, which could have easily been retitled Yoko: A John Lennon Story, almost entirely centered around John's relationship with the Japanese artist, Yoko Ono. She served as the defining catalyst in John's life, as well as the film. Whereas Cynthia Lennon accepted her role as the pliant woman behind the man, the unbridled Ono firmly took her place at John Lennon's side. It is through Ono that we, the audience, finally begin to experience the iconic sex, drugs, and rock&roll of the era. From political activism and peace protests, to public nudity, and new music, Ono and Lennon were a rebellious and unstoppable duo and the stories of their adventures, or misadventures, truly turned this documentary into pure entertainment.

The movie resolves with (SPOILER ALERT...but not really) John's untimely death. Right when you've been taken along for this ride. Right when you've unknowingly decided to vicariously live Lennon and Ono's activism-driven, make-love-not-war romance. John's murder, and the global impact of his death, bring the film to a melancholy conclusion.

Though this film is merely a collage of video clips and interviews, it still has the same rising action, internal conflicts, and epic resolution of any scripted film. It accurately paints Lennon as a man that was entirely driven by the one thing, and perhaps the only thing, anyone ever needs —love. I would certainly recommend watching this film, even if it means fast forwarding a few minutes and getting past the stale popcorn in the bucket. Enjoy!


-JR Miller

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