LOVE & MERCY (15)
D: Bill Pohlad
Lionsgate/River Road/Battle Mountain (Bill Pohlad, Claire Rudnick Polstein & John Wells)
US 2014 (released 2015)
W: Michael Alan Lerner & Oren Moverman
DP: Robert Yeoman
Ed: Dino Jonsäter
Mus: Atticus Ross
John Cusack (Brian Wilson), Paul Dano (Brian Wilson - past), Elizabeth Banks (Melinda Ledbetter), Paul Giamatti (Dr. Eugene Landy), Jake Abel (Mike Love), Kenny Wormald (Dennis Wilson), Brett Davern (Carl Wilson)
Love & Mercy is a biopic of The Beach Boys frontman and songwriter Brian Wilson, focusing on his struggle with mental health issues both in the late 1980's and during the mid 1960's, when he and his brothers were recording the album "Pet Sounds".
John Cusack plays the middle aged Brian Wilson, and the film opens with his introduction to Melinda Ledbetter, a Cadillac saleswoman who would eventually become his second wife, but their relationship faces obstacles under the iron fist of Dr. Eugene Landy, Brian's legal guardian who is manipulating the musician's paranoia, overmedicating him and abusing his schizophrenia.
The film uses a non-linear structure as it flips back to the mid-60's, when the early signs of Brian's condition manifest following disagreements with the band and management during his vision that would eventually manifest as one of the best selling albums of all time (Pet Sounds). His artful, Avant Garde approach to the music being misunderstood by his friend and family, particularly his strict father, who believes that the band should stick to the bubblegum surfer pop that they initially burst onto the music scene with.
The film does have some creative licence with the facts, but it works reasonably well for this music biopic that didn't get nearly enough attention that it deserved upon release, especially when compared to films like Bohemian Rhapsody, that also has a similar structure.
The cast are all very good, especially Paul Dano and Elizabeth Banks.