Title – Love and Mercy (2014)
Director – Bill Pohlad (Old Explorers)
Cast – Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti
Plot – A look at Beach Boys front man Brian Wilson as a younger man (Dano) and a middle aged man (Cusack) and the trials he faced in later life with manipulative doctor Eugene Landy (Giamatti) ruling his life and hope arriving in the form of car saleswomen Melinda (Banks).
“I want you to leave, but I don’t want you to leave me”
Review by Eddie on 17/11/2015
An unconventional biopic that is anything but a straight up telling of the Beach Boys rise and subsequent fall from grace, Love and Mercy is an insightful look into the troubled mind of the architect of the band Brian Wilson and a movie that does a great job of providing us with two on song and heartfelt performances.
Spanning two different time frames of the early 60’s and mid 80’s, Love and Mercy sees the always intense Paul Dano portray the younger and musically on fire Wilson while a dishevelled looking John Cusack takes on Wilson at his most vulnerable, a man whose lost himself to his thoughts and worries and most sadly lost the will to produce the music that he seemed born to produce.
Both actors deliver outstanding turns with Cusack in particular producing one of his best turns in some time. Both actors seem entirely different in many respects but it’s a great way for director Bill Pohlad to showcase the changing mindset of Wilson’s persona. A young man bursting with inventive ideas (Dano’s scenes in the recording studio are a real blast) to a middle aged man who finds it hard to even get out of bed, its horrific stuff in many ways and with the addition of Paul Giamatti as the evil doctor in Wilson’s life Dr. Eugene Landy and the slight yet important turn by Elizabeth Banks as Wilson’s love interest Melinda Ledbetter, Love and Mercy found a great cast to act on its material.
There’s a lot of good in Love and Mercy but also something slightly lacking that would’ve made it one of the best musical bio’s in sometime, problems within similar to the sometimes great but slightly misjudged James Brown film Get on Up. It would’ve been great to get more musical numbers in to remind us of the Beach Boys live power and at times you get the feeling knowing more about Brian’s childhood would’ve added to our engagement with his later life problems.
Love and Mercy will likely be a favourite to all long serving Beach Boy fans and it’s nice to see a biopic clear out its own path rather than re-tread a well-worn formula but while Love and Mercy is an interesting and often engaging watch there’s something missing and in the end good vibrations can only take this film so far.
3 ½ recording studio dogs out of 5