Love & Mercy – Movie Review
Love & Mercy – PG-13
Release Date: Thu 04 Jun 2015
Brian Wilson’s story is a captivating one to tell and it’s tempting to treat it as a VH1 Behind The Music style structure. His initial success, his complete breakdown and finally his rescue from his power-mad psychiatrist.
Instead, Love & Mercy tells the story simultaneously from two time periods. We see the younger Wilson (Paul Dano) realizing the retroactively hailed album Pet Sounds while also fighting for his father’s affection and losing control of his band, his music and ultimately his mind. An older Wilson (John Cusack) meets Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) and the two begin dating under the omnipresent, contentious eye of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). The older Wilson is utterly broken, with Landy running every aspect of his life.
The facts of the story are fairly well known. Even if you don’t know Wilson’s story, the movie does a good job of giving you the broad brushstrokes. What it never does is set up an “Oscar scene” where an actor gets to spout some perfect dialogue. Instead, tension and release is done with sound and usually a change of time period. It’s as though the older Wilson is reliving a moment that all happened in his head as Paul Dano is surrounded by sound – sometimes in awe, sometimes terrified and often deeply sad.
Fans of Wilson and his music are sure to enjoy this movie, and it was great to see an independent movie about a musician rather than one with tired, expected story beats. I deeply enjoyed it and thought the use of music at the very end was absolutely perfect.
Amber, Aaron, Cal and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car:
Give Paul Dano his Oscar, already! An amazing, blistering performance! If anyone gives a better performance this year, I will be mightily surprised.