Now, it’s been a while since I last posted as I’ve recently gotten back from a ten day holiday abroad so I can finally get back to writing reviews! I actually watched this film on holiday after stumbling across it accidentally and I initially thought how strange a concept it was to have John Lennon and Paul McCartney be played by actors which led me to believe that the film would be a bit underwhelming overall, but I was very surprised at just how beautiful and touching this film really is. Being a huge Beatles fan, it is easy for me to say that and I do have to admit that anyone who isn’t a die hard fan of The Beatles probably won’t find much enjoyment out of this picture, simply because the whole hour and a half running time consists of the two protagonists talking and reminiscing about past events and I can see a lot of people finding the pacing a bit dull. However, for me personally I think that this film is a believable portrayal of the rumoured meeting between John and Paul in John’s flat in New York, 1976 and certainly made me feel incredibly moved by the end credits.
‘Two of Us’ is directed by Michael Lindsay, the same director behind the Let it Be documentary about the Beatles’ last album recording together, so it is clear to me that he had a good knowledge on how John and Paul acted, their mannerisms and their own personal opinions. This was because whilst watching, I found myself mesmerised by these two actors, who both give a very convincing performance of these musical legends. Jared Harris plays John Lennon and does a wonderful, impressive job at portraying Lennon’s sarcastic wit and outspoken attitude, whilst also portraying his reserved side. Aidan Quinn plays Paul McCartney almost perfectly and captures the man’s soft spoken, romantic ‘pretty face’ nature perfectly which really helped the film’s emotional, tender scenes when Paul is confronting John on the hurt he felt when Lennon begun to bring Yoko into the recording sessions of Let it Be. Again, having the director of the Let it Be documentary at the helm really makes these scenes of dialogue between the two that much more believable and genuine.
Furthermore, I found the dialogue to be very well written and beautifully captures the charisma, friendship and love shared between these Liverpool mates, but also adds a huge amount of tension and drama, especially during the first couple of scenes when Paul visits John. It is clear that these old friends have a lot of patching up to do and that is basically what the film is about, two mates catching up after years of not talking and also learning to accept their differences and confront their past. This is more focused on John as he eventually opens up about the pain he feels after his troubled childhood with his father leaving early on and his mother being killed in a car crash, with Paul being able to relate with the fact that they both lost their mothers at an early age and McCartney recently lost his father. It’s truly heartwarming to watch these old friends rekindle in organic scenes of the two laughing and making silly jokes, putting on fake German accents when they get caught by police for taking drugs in the park, whilst also addressing some interesting apparent issues between John and Paul, such as John’s competitive attitude with Paul’s success with Wings and Paul’s hurt when John spent so much time with Yoko Ono, as Paul (Aidan) stated “I felt as if I was losing my best mate.” The two actors also smoothly speak in the Liverpool accent and coupled with John’s circular glasses and Paul’s 70’s mullet, I soon forgot that the two were being portrayed by actors, their performances are simply stellar and they clearly respect and admire the real John and Paul.
There are also some funny little easter eggs and nods to close fans of the Beatles which of course, I picked up on and really enjoyed, such as when John sarcastically refers to a ‘hard day’s night’, the famous title of the Beatles’ first film in 1964 and a known hit. I also liked the references to the last concert the band ever performed on top of Abbey Road Studios, with Paul jokingly quoting John’s famous witty comment after performing ‘Get Back’ “Thank you all from ourselves and we hope we past the audition!”. These little moments added to the believable dialogue as two old friends happily reminisce about the ‘good old days’ of being in such a popular group.
Another interesting quality of the film is the lack of Beatles music actually played, not one of their tracks are played throughout the whole running time, though the protagonists make constant references to a few. ‘Yesterday’ for example is included to address John’s annoyance at constantly being asked by fans on the street to sing it when he is not the original writer, Paul is. The soundtrack for this film is by David Schwartz, known for composing several American TV show soundtracks, who provides a very relaxing, touching score to the film which perfectly blends with the emotional dialogue and heavy content of some of the scenes. I really enjoyed the scene when Paul is coming up the lift to visit John, which has a playful bouncy feel to it, making me excited and intrigued to see what happens and when the music stops for the first few scenes between the two, it is clear that nothing is going to be as easy as it seems! Schwartz also provides a beautiful, sombre and simple piano piece which is played with the more heavy, emotional scenes.
Two that stick out in my mind is when John and Paul start fighting over past events with Yoko and eventually Paul leaves only to return a minute later with the two going out for some air; the superb acting combined with this tender score is incredibly powerful and making me really empathise with these men. Another scene, my favourite scene of the film is when John and Paul are on the rooftop of the flats sharing a cigarette and John slips his glasses of, asking Paul what he really sees when he looks at him. Paul replies by referring to John as a ‘beautiful boy’ (a nice nod to the song John wrote for his young son Sean called ‘Beautiful Boy’) as he softly tells Lennon that he doesn’t realise how special he is. Accompanied by the piano melody underneath, Lindsay and Schwartz with Quinn and Harris manage to deliver a simply beautifully emotional scene, which when I first watched it on holiday left me choked up and moved.
The film also has a very dreamlike, almost fantasy element to it, with the decor of John’s flat being mostly white, which Paul comments on in a moment of awkward silence between the two as they secretly share a bag of drugs. This helped to isolate the men from the rest of the world and allowed me to focus only on their dialogue and interactions. I really liked a scene when Paul started playing John’s piano, which was shot on a white piano with white walls in the background and with very little dialogue, Lindsay manages to portray Lennon and McCartney’s bond over music, especially when the two start playfully singing together which captured their friendship perfectly.
To sum up, really I’d call ‘Two of Us’ a hidden gem for any Beatles fan to dig up and watch, it’s just a fantastic concept explored to its full extent with one of the greatest friendships of all time being treated with true respect and care. It’s a wonderful little watch and I would recommend it to anyone who loves The Beatles simply for it’s authenticity at capturing the personalities of John Lennon and Paul McCartney and their lifelong friendship.