"Love & Mercy" is a biopic which shows the life of beloved musician Brian Wilson through two different eras of his life. Paul Dano plays Wilson as a teenager and the leader of the Beach Boys back in the 1960s, while John Cusack plays an older and more broken Wilson twenty years later.
Paul Dano is easily the standout in this film, capturing the essence of Wilson as a teenage musical genius who is also dealing with a bad family situation along with the start of a mental illness. Dano maintained an intriguing aura in each of his scenes as the audience witnessed the decline of the character into John Cusack's Brian Wilson. Cusack's Wilson is a broken man who lives under the supervision of Paul Giamatti's Landy. Heavily medicated after three years of depression, Wilson eventually meets Melinda, played by Elizabeth Banks, who helps him to find himself once again. The cast of this film does a great job, as Giamatti plays a great villain while Banks relationship with Cusack seems organic.
The use of music throughout the film works neatly as well. Hit songs from the Beach Boys are thrown around as we get to see how Wilson came up with his ideas for the pieces and his work with the ensemble he puts together. As someone who has played music for quite a while, I enjoyed seeing how these songs came together and the different ideas Wilson had for each piece.
The film is a little long, overstaying its welcome just by a shade at two hours. However, the way it deals with and portrays mental illness is great, showing the slow mental break of young Wilson's mind as his world crumbles around him. It's always refreshing to see a film not portray mental illness as a rare thing which only happens to those unfortunate to have it thrust upon them. It deals with Wilson's mental issues well and brings them to the forefront of the film.
Lastly, the film does what I always want biopics to do as they come to a close. It has some text after the last scene which explains the results of the film and what happened to the main characters in the years to come. There's also a video of Wilson during the first half of the end credits which is a treat to see.
"Love & Mercy" is a film I walked into with little knowledge of what to expect. I had never heard of Brian Wilson until today and knew even less about the struggles he went through for most of his life. The film captures this man in a largely satisfying way and I found myself truly enjoying it.
But those are just my thoughts. Be sure to leave yours on "Love & Mercy" in the comments below!
Check out my video review of "Love & Mercy" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p2BHWtQCt0