Love & Mercy, 2014
dir. Bill Pohland
This film is the life story of Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson split into two crucial moments of his life — his psychotic breakdown during the recording of his avant-garde masterpiece in the 60s, and his abuse by Dr Eugene Landy and rescue by Melinda Ledbetter in the 80s. In the 60s he is played by Paul Dano, and in the 80s by John Cusack, both stellar performances that bring this character into full personhood.
The story jumps back and forth in a really effective way that keeps you gripped from beginning to end. It’s always a bit tricky to make a biopic about someone who is still alive, but they really succeeded in this. And the story isn’t even the best part, it’s everything else.
John Cusack delivers one of his most powerful performances, showing the broken side of mental illness and abuse, and Paul Dano really brings it, transforming himself to fit this character. Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti, along with the rest of the cast, are also amazing, providing great support for the lead actors.
The filmmaking in this film was what made me most happy. It looks stunning, with footage edited to look like video, changes in aspect ratio, gorgeous colour palettes, and the sound editing is amazing. One scene in particular, when Brian is alone in the studio in the 60s, and he puts on his headphones, which makes him hear the voices in his head, and it’s so loud and haunting. Truly stunning.
This film is really engaging, and the story is fascinating. And as the credits roll, they showed recent footage of the actual Brian Wilson playing “Love & Mercy,” which is great.
I highly recommend this film, it’s beautiful and a fascinating look into the man behind some of the most recognisable songs ever written.
review by Mariana Duarte