Love & Mercy

"Extraordinary"

Love & Mercy Review


An unusually inventive approach brings this story to life, as the filmmakers get into the mind of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson to reveal how he created those unforgettable songs. Even more impressive is the depiction of Wilson's troubled personal life, which plays out with an unnerving resonance rarely matched by rock-star biopics. This is due to artful direction and writing plus committed performances from Paul Dano and John Cusack, who play Wilson at two key points in his life.

As a young man in the 1960s, Brian Wilson (Dano) is a prodigious genius, preferring to stay in the studio while his brothers Dennis and Carl (Kenny Wormald and Brett Davern) and their bandmate Mike Love (Jake Abel) head out to meet girls on tour. They don't understand Brian's obsession with oddball sounds, but let him do his thing until it becomes clear that he's mentally unstable. Years later, in the late 1980s, Brian (now Cusack) falls for Cadillac saleswoman Melinda (Elizabeth Banks), who realises that he is being over-medicated and possibly abused by his controlling psychiatrist guardian Eugene (Paul Giamatti). And instead of leaving, as Eugene orders her to do, she fights for Brian.

These two time periods are interwoven together in a strikingly seamless way, shifting back and forth to build a potent dramatic and emotional momentum. By seeing everything from Wilson's perspective, the filmmakers are able to take the audience on a remarkable journey through his life, avoiding the usual predictable formula. Wilson's life may follow the usual trajectory of success followed by drug abuse, but his mental illness adds an involving angle that's depicted with sensitivity by Dano and Cusack, as well as director Bill Pohlad and writers Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner. Even more impressive is Banks' performance, which is the key that takes us right into the story. It's a beautifully textured turn that reminds us that she can do a lot more than steal movies in comical roles (see Pitch Perfect, Magic Mike and The Hunger Games).

While the drama showcases the complex, textured acting, the musical side of Wilson's story is just as powerful. The section focussing on the creation of the band's iconic album Pet Sounds is simply riveting, especially an extended sequence that layers in a vast range of disparate noises until the familiar hook of Good Vibrations begins to emerge. This is visceral, exhilarating filmmaking that finds new ways to explore how art is created, the pressures of celebrity and what it feels like to be mentally ill. It was a big risk to take such an internalised approach to Wilson's life and work, but the result offers both insight and a whole new reason to be a Beach Boys fan.

Watch the trailer for Love & Mercy here:




Love & Mercy

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th June 2015

Box Office USA: $7.2M

Distributed by: Roadside Attractions

Production compaines: River Road Entertainment, John Wells Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 118 Rotten: 14

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Bill Pohlad

Producer: Bill Pohlad, , Claire Rudnick Polstein

Starring: as Brian Wilson, as Brian Wilson, plus âgé, as Dr. Eugene Landy, as Melinda Ledbetter, as Dennis Wilson, as Mike Love, as Marilyn Wilson, as Audree Wilson, Brett Davern as Carl Wilson, Graham Rogers as Al Jardine, Dee Wallace as Rosemary

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