MOVIE REVIEW: “Love & Mercy” stars Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man, Little Miss Sunshine), John Cusack (Grosse Point Blank, High Fidelity), Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Paul Giamatti (San Andreas, Sideways), Jake Abel (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Supernatural [TV series]), Kenny Wormald (Footloose , Clerks II), Brett Davern (Awkward. [TV series], The Stanford Prison Experiment), Graham Rogers (Ray Donovan [TV series], Atypical [TV series]), Erin Darke (Dietland [TV series], Good Girls Revolt [TV series]), and Bill Camp (Birdman or [The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance], Joker). It is directed by Bill Pohlad (Old Explorers), with the screenplay being written by Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Time Out of Mind) and Michael A. Lerner (Deadlines, August. Eighth). Based on the life of Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, this film follows Wilson in creating the iconic Pet Sounds album and him struggling with mental illness in his mid-life.
Have you ever wanted to see a movie, one that no one hardly talks about or considers recommended, but wait an eternity to actually see it? Well, for me, that’s “Love & Mercy.” I can’t it to you, but for the last four years, I’ve been wanting to see this flick and have not gotten around to it. Call it laziness, call it just never seeing it available anywhere. I like The Beach Boys, and when I saw Paul Dano was in a film about Brian Wilson, I was intrigued. No, it was not as hyped up as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” nor was it as critically acclaimed as “Walk the Line.” But, after seeing the movie, I can say I’m glad I finally did. It didn’t blow me away, but at the same time it didn’t disappoint me. I got what I wanted, and even walked away learning something. “Love & Mercy” works as your typical rockstar-gone-crazy feature, but in a way you wouldn’t expect. It revolves around Brian Wilson, both during the creation of Pet Sounds in the late sixties and Wilson’s battle with his insane doctor in the eighties. The pacing works well, with both sides holding enough interesting material to keep you engaged. Wilson’s portrayal by both Dano and John Cusack is amazing, with the two doing a terrific job keeping their performances similar (with slight alterations). I hardly see Cusack in anything and thought he was exceptional in this. Can I see his character with a woman like Elizabeth Banks? Not really. But, they had good chemistry, and her discovery of his life at a time so horrid made for an interesting foil to Dano’s portrayal of a young Wilson trying to prove himself with an album that’s ballsy and a mind going slightly insane. I must also mention that Paul Giamatti is a delight in this. Sure, he’s playing the bad guy we’ve seen before, but he’s just so gosh darned good at it. There’s a lot that “Love & Mercy” does well in this, from performances to music to cinematography. The story can waver from time to time, but at the end of the day it serves its purpose and keeps me engaged. To me, I was more intrigued with this than “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Though the story does present itself in a similar fashion most music-stars-going-mad features do, it does enough differently (slight twist of two time eras and trippy editing) to make it stand out. “Love & Mercy” is a well done film with strong performances, a good heart, and a nice conclusion. Also, to me, you can’t go wrong with Wilson’s music. FINAL SCORE: 80%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
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