Review: Love & Mercy

Smile.

Love & Mercy follows the story of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. We start off in the 60's with a younger Wilson (Paul Dano) who takes a break from touring to try to create new music, which doesn't always mesh well with his band mates. We switch back and forth with 60's Brian, and 80's Brian (now played by John Cusak) as a man who has been struggling with mental illness for years and is kept on a tight leash by his doctor, Eugene Landy. (Paul Giamatti) Brian meets Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) who sells him a car and becomes his girlfriend, but not without conflict from Landy.

You don't have to be a big fan of the Beach Boys to enjoy this film. I certainly wasn't, though I was always aware of their music. I mainly saw this film for Paul Dano, and I was certainly not disappointed. He's amazing in this performance. He gained nearly 40 lbs to play Wilson, and alternated (wisely) between his actual singing voice and lip syncing to Wilson. The scenes were he's in the studio particularly are fun to watch because Dano is such a natural. Even though Cusak was good in this role, I almost wish Dano would've played both versions just so he could've had more screen time. Banks has really been good as she expands into more dramas, and Giamatti is always a good villain.

At times, parts of this film feel very cliched, but that's something that director Bill Pohlad knew going in, and nearly considered re-working parts of the script to avoid that, but he left everything as is. I thought that was very bold of him, though the mid June release date will pretty much ensure that this will not get the normal Oscar biopic treatment, which is a shame for someone like Dano who gives such a fine performance.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "It makes sense in my head.." - Brian (Paul Dano)

10 comments:

  1. I missed this in theaters, but I definitely want to check it out on DVD. The performances look great, and the casting of Dano and Cusack has me intrigued.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was expecting to be bitter about Cusack because he takes screen time away from Dano, but he was good too. lol

      Delete
  2. This is one of those films that I've heard about but was kind of baffled was at our local theater since it feels like one of those awkward indies that only hits four theaters and winds up on VOD in like four days.

    I guess I need to see this...but I'm no Dano fan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol I was surprised too when I saw it at my main multiplex. I figured it won't be here for long so I rushed to it instead of Dope like I originally planned. Still, it's good. Maybe it will be a turning point for you, Dano-wise? lol

      Delete
  3. I'm a casual fan of the Beach Boys as I'm more of a fan of Brian Wilson and I really want to see this. Notably for the storyline as I wanted to see Wilson at his creative peak in making Pet Sounds and Smile and then the period where he was at his most trapped until this kind woman would save him and bring him back to the world he was taken away from.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a really interesting time in his life for sure. I guess Brian Wilson really liked how his movie turned out.

      Delete
  4. hmmm so i will watch this for Dano.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! For Dano! *screams in Narnia voice*

      Delete
  5. I really need to see this one, missed it at MSPIFF. I'm not a huge fan of The Beach Boys but I'm always intrigued by a good biopic and Dano is indeed a good actor. I like that Bill Pohlad is a big patron of the arts here in MN, curious to see his work behind the camera.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He does well! I hope you get a chance to see it.

      Delete

No seriously, post one. I need attention.