Warning: This synopsis contains plot spoilers
It's 1964, a "top pop year" for the Beatles, and a mop-topped John Lennon is whisked through back halls and down a fire escape to avoid the screaming mob by Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who is taking him to a reunion with his long-estranged father. Epstein describes Freddie Lennon as "nothing more than a tramp," but the hostility — palpable as John meets the pathetic man who seemingly abandoned the boy at six years old — signals that he is significantly more, to John.
When Epstein dies suddenly, the bandmates trade their frenetic touring life for the studio, their mod suits for psychedelic garb, and eventually, the good will of an adoring press and public for bewilderment and antagonism. In finally trying to set down roots, John cruelly humiliates his longsuffering wife, Cynthia, and rejects his young son, Julian, all the while reliving his abandonment by his father. When his comments that the Beatles are "more popular than Jesus" are misunderstood, he incites the wrath of the record-burning public; still, he tells their press agent that "sometimes I think I'm Jesus Christ." Tripping on acid, he tests the theory by seeing if he can walk on water.
John looks to everyone from the Maharishi to Bridgitte Bardot for comfort, distraction and answers, but it's only in the arms of conceptual artist Yoko Ono that he attempts to reconcile his polarizing forces of sinking and flying, peace and pandemonium, ever believing that an artist must destroy as well as create. Together, John and Yoko delve into primal scream therapy and release avant-garde recordings. They invite the press into their bedroom to promote peace and work to change the world, healing the part of John who remains an abandoned young boy even as the Beatles break apart. Finally, they leave England behind for New York as Lennon launches his solo career, beginning what ultimately becomes his transformation into an enduring icon of peace and love.