Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy
John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti

Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements, drug content and language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: June 5, 2015 Released by: Roadside Attractions

A thoughtful, though initially incongruous transporting biopic of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson stars John Cusack (2012), Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2) and Paul Giamatti (San Andreas). It may remind some discerning cinema folk of Todd Haynes's complex, yet involving I'm Not There which was an oddly surreal take on folk star Bob Dylan.

The insightful attention to an incomparable, soulful, and gloomy musician straddles the line between convention within the genre shifting from the 1960s to the 1980s interestingly works from the double casting of Cusack and Dano as the tormented, if ethereal creative force.

Some may think that a daring, if spacey Dano is just channeling Wilson (appealing pallid in fooling around at the piano while talking to himself in making 'Pet Sounds') in his most productive years as helmer Bill Pohlad (producer of Into The Wild and 12 Years a Slave) stages a resonantly disarming structure through co-scenarist Oren Moverman (writer of the aforementioned Haynes film and director of The Messenger). One that switches from the tragic to the inspiring with commercialism and addiction prominent in the waning of his artisan acumen.

The older, nearly defeated Brian, some two decades hence, is played by an understated, affecting Cusack (Hot Tub Time Machine and not really much like Wilson at all) helps fascinatingly alter the perspective from Dano's psychologically immature, but wide-eyed and eager to record away from the hit group he had so much success on tour and doing the backing tracks. A swindling and destructive, but psychologically prolific Dr. Landy (a smarmy shaman in Giamatti) is key in rescuing Brian, or at least temporarily from his personal concavity living on pharmaceutical drugs before meeting up with a palliative Melinda (a decent reconciling Banks) in a showroom when shopping for a Caddy.

From watching the wrenching insanity it's clear how someone could become a wreck from combining gloom and joy with a subliminal grace that traces the conflict of fellow member Mike Love (an agreeably energetic Jake Abel) amidst Southern California dreamy sounds. Love & Mercy resounds with sensitivity and vindication of a split individual from the grinning and grimaces to do Good Vibrations and frenzied Smile sessions with Dano and Cusack assimilating the esprit and imprisonment of the crucial link of music and identity with wish-fulfillment fantasy and verisimilitude.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Dayra Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Love & Mercy  C      B+                     B- 

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