Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy

(2014)

The life of reclusive Beach Boys singer-songwriter Brian Wilson, played by both Paul Dano and John Cusack. From Wilson's genre-defining album Pet Sounds to his nervous breakdown and treatment by the controversial psychotherapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), who became excessively entangled in Wilson’s private life.... More

Dano (There Will Be Blood) and Cusack (High Fidelity) play the young and old Wilson respectively, while Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) is Wilson's second and current wife, Melinda Ledbetter. This is the first film directed by Bill Pohlad for over 20 years, his producing credits include 12 Years A Slave, The Tree Of Life and Brokeback Mountain.Hide

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Flicks Review

A fascinating life does not necessarily a fascinating biopic make. Thankfully Love & Mercy zeroes in on two specific phases of Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s troubled life, sparing us the dreary chore of ticking off all significant events along the way. Relief also comes by way of casting, with no prosthetics or uncanny valley CGI required to bring younger and older versions of Wilson to life. In employing both Paul Dano and John Cusack as the troubled musical genius, Love & Mercy allows the pair to each hone in tightly on specific character arcs.... More

For Dano that’s a retreat from performing in favour of increasing perfectionism in the studio, and displays of eccentricity that blossom into extreme mental illness, while Cusack’s Wilson is an over-medicated shell, under the thumb of his shrink (Paul Giamatti) but gradually regaining a sense of independence. As the film cuts back and forth between these time periods it offers interesting contrasts between the two, drawing comparisons between Wilson’s pursuit of pop perfection and the rehabilitation of his personality.

Dano is utterly fantastic, disappearing into the role as he piles on the pounds, and bringing the creative process to life so vividly that it shames many similar films. And while Cusack is recognisably Cusack throughout, he does a far better job as broken Wilson than his recent filmography would suggest. Opposite Cusack, Elizabeth Banks offers a strong love interest, and protagonist really, to fill the void left by Wilson’s departed sanity.

Yes, you see Pet Sounds recorded, and yes, there’s a piano in a sandbox, but Love & Mercy is more than a rote Beach Boys biopic. Even when it overreaches with a 2001-ish sequence, at least the film’s in pursuit of more than a simple A to B TV movie tale.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 4 ratings, 3 reviews
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BY Brian1 superstar

especially if you grew up in the world of surf sounds, beaches(even tho there's no real beach scenes here) and pop music of the 60's & 70's.


BY Gaspardation superstar

The structure of the film is two-timeline parallel unfolding, however the two don't interact with each other, making the film very loose and unappealing.


BY Red superstar

This is not your usual biopic, far more interesting than the cradle-to-grave go to story. Paul Dano is fantastic, outdoing John Cusack IMO.

Recommended.


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The Press Reviews

89% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • An earnest attempt to convey the essential truth of Wilson’s extraordinary career and difficult life animates both halves of the film, and both performances. Full Review

  • Wilson's life has been unusually rich. This biopic, like any biopic, is a cocktail of fact and myth. It's very sensitive to its subject, which can sometimes leave it feeling slight. Full Review

  • The Dano sequences also benefit enormously from the dense sound collages created by composer Atticus Ross and utilised by director Bill Pohlad to dramatise Wilson's inner turmoil. Full Review

  • It's a loving tribute to the Beach Boys and the man responsible for their distinctive sound, but it goes to deeper and stranger places than most movies of its kind. Full Review

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93 %

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