Love & Mercy - 2015 - 8/10
Resisted this for a very long time.
I am very familiar with the Beach Boys, particularly Brian Wilson’s story.
Glossing or fabricating on the filmmakers part would ruin this for me.
A few quibbles aside, this is highly recommended to Wilson fans, and generally recommended to casuals.
Paul Dano portrays Brian at his creative zenith, while John Cusack’s Wilson is caught, not in the lowest point, but certainly in a career trench.
Dano very good as young Brian, innocent, ebullient, full of uncontrolled ideas.
Cusack has the tougher road as he does not resemble Brian, yet he does not fall into the cheap actor’s trick of impersonation. Hairstyle or Wilson’s sidespeech. Cusack works marvels with mannerisms.
Basic tale of collapse and later resurrection is smartly told, if somewhat disingenuous.
Outstanding use of colors and clothing to evoke time and convey subliminal messages.
The two docs on this are helpful.
First problem - Dr Landy. Yes, a despicable, self-serving cad, and yet, he did get Brian out of bed, got him to exercise, eat better, lose weight. He also pushed him into the studio to craft a great album.
(Rolling Stone published an insightful article in their August 11, 1988 issue.)
No reference whatsoever to the “drainers” as Marilyn (wife #1) called them.
The spongers and hangers on who were human parasites.
No reference to Diane Rovell, Marilyn’s sister. Both were in Wilson produced groups, The Honeys and Spring.
Another problem - The band’s discomfort with “Pet Sounds”. As if they did not understand it. Fact is, Brian used crack musicians and the band knew the songs would be difficult to perform live. (Note - they later learned.)
This dovetails into the “Smile” sessions where Mike Love lobbied hard to return to the old cars, girls and surf formula, which was already passé.
In 1967 music was exploding. Filmmakers, instead of playing a Dusty Springfield song, should have selected The Doors, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Hendrix, to name a few, to show just how out of touch Mike Love was, and how Brian, following his own muse, was more cued in.
Another quibble. Although the movie flashbacks on the early Beach Boy ascent, the subsequent years are not shown. The band continued, with and without Brian, to release well received albums for another decade.
As noted, these are nitpicks, and the casual Beach Boys fan couldn’t care less. Moreover, hardcore fans - of any musician, poet, writer, actor, artist, chef - are often obsessive and strange.