Love and Mercy, the Brian Wilson biopic, was an excellent film in every sense of the word. Paul Dano and John Cusack both play Brian Wilson and are fantastic. Both of these actors playing the same character is something that has not been done before, at least not like this. A few years ago, in I’m Not There a half dozen actor played Bob Dylan, but those were characters based on different facets of Bob Dylan’s persona and not portraying Dylan himself. In this film, Dano and Cusack portray Brian Wilson and not someone based on Wilson. They both give Oscar caliber performances, although the movie is out early, and the actor race gets stacked during the traditional Oscar season, so I doubt either will end up with a nomination. The supporting cast featuring Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti were also excellent and like Dano and Cusack deliver performances that are Oscar caliber.
Aside from the performances the screenplay was a fascinating exploration of Wilson’s mental condition and him having to live with it in the later part of his life. While also exploring his reconciling it with his genius during the sessions for Pet Sounds and Smile. Bill Pohlad’s direction was excellent and at times feels intimate and others it feels like a documentary. Also, the use of the incredible music that Wilson created for Pet Sounds and during the sessions for Smile was my personal favorite part of the film. A lot of it was that was used was instrumental and you hear how Wilson was able to develop some of them because you hear it during the production stages and go to the eventual final form. There was nothing in the film that I would say was a con. The movie was about Brian Wilson and not the Beach Boys. So, I cannot hold the lack of the general Beach Boys story against the film.
Love and Mercy gets a 5/5.