Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MINI-REVIEW: Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy

John Cusack, Paul Dano


June 5, 2015

Bill Pohland

Roadside Attractions

2 hours 5 minutes



When I was growing up, there were two prominent things that came to mind when I heard the name "The Beach Boys:" the song "Surfin' USA" and their guest appearances on "Full House."  Of course I knew songs like "I Get Around," "Be True To Your School," and "Kokomo," but it was those two things that I always associated with the popular band group.  Before anyone says anything about the song "Forever," that song will always be one by Jesse and the Rippers, thank you very much.  Anyway, from how cheery and fun their songs were, I never would have guessed that there would have been anything really dark and traumatic in any of the band member's lives, let alone the guy who thought of the music and lyrics to most of their hit songs.  Sure enough though, the life of Brian Wilson is a sad and gloomy one, filled with drugs, paranoia, reclusion, and paranoid schizophrenia.  In the biopic "Love & Mercy," Wilson's life story is told in two different time periods by two different actors playing him.  Paul Dano plays Wilson in the 1960s just as he was working on the albums "Pet Sounds" and the unreleased "SMiLE," and John Cusack plays Wilson in the 1980s when he was under the intense and unorthodox care of Dr. Eugene Landy.

The sides of Wilson's life portrayed on screen may be different, but at the same time really compliment one another.  Both Cusack and Dano give spectacular performances as Wilson, both showing complex and damaged yet utterly fascinating portraits of one of the most gifted musicians of the 60s.  Bill Pohland shows that he has a grasp on the material provided by screenwriter Oren Moverman and, while dragging at times, really makes a compelling and engaging biopic.  Aside from Paul Giamatti going a little over the top at times, not enough of Paul Dano's storyline, and the previously mentioned fact that it drags a tad, I don't have any problems with "Love & Mercy."  It is an entertaining and sometimes heartbreaking film that is elevated thanks to its fascinating story and two lead actors giving incredible performances as the same person.


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