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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Love & Mercy (2015)

Set in the 1960s and the 1980s, the film follows Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) of the Beach Boys who wants to advance musically from the popular Beach Boys hits into more complex music but his demons threaten to railroad him to the point that in the 1980s, he (John Cusack) finds himself under the care of a manipulative psychologist (Paul Giamatti) who takes over his life completely and isolates him from his family and friends. LOVE & MERCY miraculously manages to avoid the dreaded curse of the movie biography. This isn't the usual rags to riches to downfall to triumph movie biography. Bill Pohlad directed a film in 1990 and this is only his second film. In between, he became a film producer of such films as 12 YEARS A SLAVE and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Pohlad was smart enough not to try and do an entire life in two hours but focuses on two specific time periods, the 60s when Wilson produced the (now) classic Pet Sounds album against the advice of everyone and the 80s when Wilson was at his darkest under the thumb of an unethical psychiatrist. This allows more detail and factual elements. Dano and Cusack's tandem performance is seamless and one can easily believe one grew into the other. With Elizabeth Banks as the woman who literally saves Wilson's life (and later became his second wife).

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