LOVE & MERCY: THE LIFE, LOVE AND GENIUS OF BRIAN WILSON
Director: Bill Pohlad
Writers: Oren Moverman, Michael A. Lerner
Stars: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti
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REVIEW – People tend to forget music history and short change Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys impact on music. Some casual fans may consider them a band that had a few surf songs, while diehard fans know what impact the man and the music had on the musical climate. Without Pet Sounds, there would never have been a Beatles release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Pet Sounds inspired bands to go more progressive in their sound and art rock in their feel. When I heard there was a biopic about the life of Brian Wilson, I had to see it. Any music critic or fan no matter what genre or flag you wave for music has to list this band as one of the greatest bands in the history of music. As the film opens we get a montage of footage from the earlier days which was very incredible and for me emotional to watch the band’s early successes. We move from there to the 80’s when we meet an older Brian Wilson and he meets s car salesperson named Melinda Ledbetter at a car dealership. Melinda admits she has no idea who Brian Wilson is, which leads us to skip back to the 60’s when we watch a young Brian going thru a panic attack. We find out that his love of the Beatles cd Revolver (which is also my wife’s favorite cd as well) is what would get his creativity thinking about Pet Sounds. This film along with Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There are just sheer genius as to how they convey both music and the image of the rock stars. While I felt John Cusack playing Brian in the 80’s felt restrained at times, and really showcased Brian’s strangeness yet uniqueness. Paul Dano playing him in the 60’s was gold. The balance of innocence mixed with genius was just so emotionally manipulating. It knew how to get the viewer to feel and react, and it did so with such a clever script and just such a faithful retelling.
Love & Mercy really makes you think about what Brian Wilson would have done if he never made it in music. We watch as Wilson seems to summon passion from elements like turmoil simple noises like dog’s barking, hairpins and bells. This film while it was not a s creative as I’m Not There, it was very emotionally heartfelt for longtime fans that have read the stories and think they know everything about the man. The negative for me is why this film was not discussed in any Oscar capacity? As far as John Cusack goes, this is his best work since he sold his soul to the direct to DVD and commercial voice overs. This film hits so many right notes that I felt this should have been last year’s Jersey Boys. If you are a Beach Boys fan, no need to do a sales pitch, you have to know this is well worth buying. If you are not a Beach Boys fan, you clearly have no taste in music and are clearly missing out due to your close-minded ignorance. There is no doubt about what impact the band had on music, this film I feel packs quite the impact and punch and could get even better with repeat viewings.
LOVE & MERCY | Official Trailer: