And in the End: The Death and Life of John Lennon

It’s 10.52 on a December evening in 1980. Five shots ring out and John Lennon is dying. ‘And In The End’, written, directed and produced by Alexander Marshall, takes place in ‘the vortex somewhere between life and death’, and offers a tragical history tour of the dissident Beatle’s inner life.

Marshall’s script is meticulously researched, and even the most ardent Lennon-acolyte is likely to discover something new, but it’s more than just a string of mop-top trivia. Though the rougher edges of Lennon’s character have been planed away, there’s a focus on the frustrations that underpinned his greatest successes that makes this portrait particularly convincing.

It helps that Valentine Pelka’s fractious performance as Lennon is so entrancing. Pelka is the absolute image of the murdered musician, and he nails his petulant, unstable wit.

If Marshall had ditched the self-help framing device, which sees Lennon negotiating the ‘five stages of grief’ guided by three off-the-peg spectral ‘gatekeepers’, things would be greatly improved. This cringeworthy intervention, together with some naïve production values – including a brief LSD trip on the back of what looks to be a giant vole – is the fatal flaw in what is otherwise a smart, sensitive and skilfully performed potted history.

Stewart Pringle

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