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|Love & Mercy|
dir Bill Pohlad
scr Oren Moverman, Michael Alan Lerner
prd Bill Pohlad, Claire Rudnick Polstein, John Wells
with John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Brett Davern, Bill Camp, Erin Darke, Graham Rogers, Jeff Meacham, Diana Maria Riva
release US 5.Jun.15, UK 10.Jul.15
I don't know where but she sends me there: Banks and Cusack
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a sensitive, invigorating artistic approach, this unusual biopic captures the soul of Brian Wilson while recounting the events of his life in an unusually casual way. Watching it is often thrilling, as the film washes over and around the audience, engulfing us with thoughts, images and sounds that are far more experiential than most biographical movies.
As a young man, Brian (Dano) is a distracted genius, crafting the Beach Boys' songs as layered musical masterpieces even as he is tormented by his relentlessly critical father (Camp). While his bandmates, including his brothers Dennis and Carl (Wormald and Davern) and Mike Love (Abel), don't quite understand his obsession with unusual sounds, they go along with it until his mental problems become more pronounced. Years later, Brian (now Cusack) meets Cadillac saleswoman Melinda (Banks), who is worried that he's being over-medicated and possibly abused by his controlling, protective doctor Eugene (Giamatti).
The two periods of the story are interwoven by the filmmakers as a single narrative, flowing into and out of each other like movements in a symphony. It's a tricky approach that works beautifully because it's focussing on Brian's singular perspective rather than any plot points. This helps the film avoid the cliched structure of most musician biopics. Even though Wilson's story follows the same trajectory, it never feels remotely formulaic, constantly finding new beats in every scene.
It also provides a deeply personal slant that showcases the actors' densely layered performances. Cusack and especially Dano are remarkable as Wilson, offering a believable balance of humour and torment in sequences that are raucously funny or wrenchingly emotional, sometimes both at the same time. And Banks is simply fabulous as a woman pulled into Wilson's surreal lifestyle, realising that maybe she can help him escape. Her performance is so fierce and likeable that she almost walks off with the film.
Director Pohlad and writers Moverman and Lerner took a big risk in making such a heavily stylised film. But their ingenious, swirling approach mines a wealth of insight, exploring the inner workings of the Beach Boys while also delving into both the art of making a pop record and the darkness of mental illness. And the film is packed with exhilarating moments; the segment tracing the conception and recording of Good Vibrations is alone worth the price of admission.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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