Photo: Courtesy
Photo: Courtesy

By Megan Bianco

All over Manhattan and down Doheny Way, people are familiar with the Beach Boys’ classic songs but now a new motion picture offers insight into the musical genius and mental illness of Brian Wilson, the famous surf-pop band’s front man and main songwriter. This June, music lovers and movie fans can unite to view the best biopic of 2015: Bill Pohlad’s Love & Mercy.

Switching off between the periods of 1965 to 1968 and 1987 to 1988, we see young Brian (Paul Dano) at the top of his game, composing his masterpiece Pet Sounds and the sessions for the abandoned album sMiLe; and middle-aged Brian (John Cusack) at his most reclusively depressed. The audience grasps the pressure and stress Brian was under while experimenting with his music, the abuse he was dealt from his father Murry (Bill Camp), his cousin/band mate Mike Love (Jake Abel), his therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) and also his relationships with wives Marilyn (Erin Darke) and Melinda (Elizabeth Banks).

Once you get past the fact that Cusack looks nothing like Wilson, there’s a fine performance underneath. It’s obvious Cusack did his homework on Brian’s mannerisms and speaking patterns, as has Dano. The real standout sequences are in the past with Dano, and the soundtrack of Sounds. Pohlad creates a beautiful montage of a genius, mentally lost and in need of a real friend. Love & Mercy will appeal to a wide variety of viewers but for fans of the Beach Boys, Wilson or a good period piece—this film is right on the mark.

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