|LOVE & MERCY (director: Bill Pohlad; screenwriters: Oren Moverman, Michael Alan Lerner; cinematographer: Robert Yeoman; editor: Dino Jonsater; music: Atticus Ross; cast: (Dr Eugene Landy), Paul Dano (Brian Wilson), John Cusack (Brian Wilson, older), Elizabeth Banks (Melinda Ledbetter), Jake Abel (Mike Love), Kenny Wormald (Dennis Wilson), Brett Davern (Carl Wilson), Graham Rogers (Al Jardine), Bill Camp (Murry Wilson), Erin Darke (Marilyn Wilson), Max Schneider (Van Dyke Parks); Runtime: 121; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Bill Pohlad, Claire Rudnick Polstein, John Wells; Roadside Attractions; 2014)|
|"It's much better than the usual
formulaic musical biopic."
by Dennis Schwartz
Pohlad ("Old Explorers")
is a producer trying his hand at directing.
He gives us a vibrant and finely crafted biopic
of the Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson, with the
help of writers Oren Moverman and
Michael Alan Lerner. It covers two
different periods in the genius songwriter's life. It
tells us when Wilson (as played by Paul Dano) was in a
creative period and quit performing live after a panic
attack while on a flight touring with his popular
group. A period that ranged from 1965 to 1968, one
that was noted for the single "Good Vibrations".
It was a time when Wilson battled mental health issues
that worsened. The other period of Wilson's life it
inter-cuts with is set in the 1980s. He's played by
John Cusack. This time Wilson is a broken man, who
tries to free himself from the strangling influence of
his manipulative guru doctor ( ).
To do so Wilson was fortunate to be helped by falling in love with a Cadillac
dealer named Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks),
who goes from dealing with him as a customer to
becoming his second wife.
The film does a good job capturing Brian's creative period and his down time because of mental problems. It's much better than the usual formulaic musical biopic. Beach Boys fans should be all over the film's version of "Pet Sound," while casual fans and newcomers to the group should be satisfied with both the music and drama. The effervescent melodies come across as a pleasant reminder of how much of a positive impact the group had on American rock music.
REVIEWED ON 3/5/2016 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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