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What would have happened to John Lennon had he left the Beatles in 1962, on the cusp of greatness? We join Lennon (Ian Hart, uncanny in his third outing as the Beatle) in grey, 1991 Birmingham, scratching out a living in dead-end jobs, dispensing pithily sardonic observations and denying his mild resentment towards Paul McCartney. In this universe, Macca’s Lennon-less Beatles are dragging themselves around the low-rent nostalgia circuit after a middling career of melodic that saw them eclipsed by the likes of The Hollies.
‘Snodgrass’ (Lennon’s tag for ‘The Man’) could have been a dismally self-regarding muso wank-off – and there are in-jokes aplenty for Fab Four obsessives. But it also works beautifully as simple human drama, anchored by a performance of thoughtful melancholy from Hart. The concept is neither overthought nor over-explained, the attention to detail in David Quantick’s screenplay (based on Ian R MacLeod’s novella) is stunning, and Ex-Boo Radley Martin Carr’s soundtrack of affectionate pastiches completes this miniature masterpiece of disappointment and regret.