Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Love & Mercy (2014)

Tagline: The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson
Cusack plays: Older Brian Wilson

After the last two straight to DVD duds, I was cheered by the prospect of an actual UK cinema release and trip to see Cusack on the big screen. The trailer looked promising, and the subject matter of interest. I like a biopic, I like the Beach Boys, fingers crossed I was in for a treat.

And *happy dance* this is a great film. It cuts between 1960s Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) and 1980s (Cusack). The earlier years focus on the Beach Boys successes, Wilson's musical genius and the recording of Pet Sounds and other records. It also documents his emerging mental health problems and troubled relationship with his father. The film continually cuts between the early years and a few decades later - Wilson is under the control of a shady therapist (Paul Giamatti) who keeps him heavily medicated. He meets Melinda (Elizabeth Banks), when out buying a car, and she attempts to pry him away from the Dr's grip.

Dano is fantastic as earlier Brian, embodying the star and even doing some singing. You grin as the familiar songs start to take shape, even if sometimes it's a bit obvious and bordering on cheesy (no prizes for guessing which song emerges after a character mentions animals and moods being affecting by vibrations). I think that's one of the joys of biopics though.

Alas Cusack doesn't sing, but he wonderfully portrays Wilson's struggles, paranoia and empty, controlled life. I knew less about this period of Wilson's life, and while Giamatti verges on the panto villian, he's pretty scary. You are truly rooting for Melinda to come through and rescue Brian and release his muscial genius once more. And you just want to give Cusack a big hug.

So it's a thumbs up for this one from me.

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