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Love & Mercy – Review


Release Date: 19 June 2015 [USA]
Director: Bill Pohlad
Writer: Oren Moverman - Michael A. Lerner [Screenplay] - Brian Wilson [Based On The Life Of]
Cast: John Cusack - Paul Dano - Elizabeth Banks



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Posted July 13, 2015 by

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Love & Mercy Review:

I bet you haven’t ever heard about Bill Pohlad, but you must have seen at least some of his work, given that he produced masterpieces like ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘Into the Wild’, ’12 Years a slave’ or ‘The Tree of Life’. And, maybe, just maybe, the topic at hands today had a special place in his heart, special enough that he decides to become more involved in this new project: talking about Brian Wilson, the leader and main composer of the “Beach Boys”. And no, his life was not as sunny and cheery as his song sounds like, unfortunately for him.

The movie is presented as “the real life” of Brian Wilson, or at least parts of it, and specifically the part of the “young” Brian (Paul Dano, from ‘The Girl Next Door’, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, ‘Looper’) when he composed “Pet Sounds” while the band was touring without him (being aerophobic) and the consequences of its lukewarm success at the time, and the part, in the late Eighties, where Brian (John Cusack, from ‘Maps to the Stars’, ‘2012’, ‘Being John Malkovitch’) meets Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks, from ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘W.’, ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’, Brian being tormented with delusional schizophrenia, according to his psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti, from ‘Cosmopolis’, ‘Ironclad’, ‘Shoot’Em Up’). As Brian tries to get over his issues as well as his demons, Melinda will provide an unexpected anchor in his life.

I have to admit, the movie is not good. Really, it’s confusing, because it’s not a documentary, but it feels it’s like a biopic directed and edited “like” a documentary, and the sequences were made in a way they left me with an awkward taste in my mouth, sort of speak. Most of these sequences are long, weirdly empty, which stresses the awkward feeling I am referring to, but we must admit that it serves the original intent of the film: to show us another point of view of what are the Beach Boys. It’s not all sunny and cheery, as mentioned in my introduction, it’s not all about “Good Vibrations” but quite about the stress that Brian was always under, his need for perfection, and the kind of obnoxious and macabre pressure his father was putting him and the band under.

Maybe it’s a bit overrated, maybe all the biopic about this major artist or this talented person are made to show that these people have their demons to fight, had a terribly difficult childhood, had or still have to deal with drugs issues, but somehow I think we do enjoy being the witnesses of the flews of these people we easily compare to gods, it makes us feel better, which makes us loving them even more. And in the present movie, the performance of Paul Dano and John Cusack for their role as Brian Wilson, as well as Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks are truly astonishing and truthful, perhaps the best I’ve seen this year so far.

So, yes, maybe the form, the shape of this film is not that good, maybe Bill Pohlad is not really used to that kind of exercise, but the content is clearly beyond reproaches. And for that reason, I really encourage you all to give ‘Love & Mercy’ a try, whether you are familiar with the ‘Beach Boys’ mania or, like me, a complete neophyte.


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Theo Tessa
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