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