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Love & Mercy (2014)
Love & Mercy (2014)
Director: Bill Pohlad
Stars: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music

In 1966 the Beach Boys are struggling to complete their masterpiece album Pet Sounds and Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) is struggling with mental illness. In the mid 1980's an older Brian Wilson (John Cusack) is a virtual prisoner of his controlling therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), when he meets a caring woman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks)...CR

I love the Beach Boys music, but by mercy what did I just watch? This film is bi polar, with half of it set in the 1960's with Paul Dano playing Brian Wilson...and the other half set in the 1980's with John Cusack also playing Brian Wilson. Why?...Was this suppose to be clever? It's not, it's distracting.

Cusack isn't bad in this, he just doesn't look the part. Paul Dano on the other hand embodies Brian Wilson, he looks like him, acts like him. I believed his performance. Why couldn't the make up department age Dano for the 1980's version?

All this back and forth time travel with two different Brian Wilson makes for an unstructured film. It didn't hold my attention. Which is too bad as there were scenes in the 1960s with Dano, showing his mental illness creeping up on him, that were powerful. I could see how frightened and confused Brian was. It was really sad to watch such an artistic genius, suffer....But then we flash forward and my emotional investment is put on hold as we watch Cusack in the 80s.

Paul Giamatti plays the evil therapist who has legal guardianship over Brian. Giamatti's a fine actor but here the director has him totally over top with evilness. All he needed was a black cape and to twirl his mustache. The bad wig didn't help either.

Elizabeth Banks was fine but they might have toned down her Barbie doll look. Why she falls for a confused mumbling Brain Wilson is never made clear either.

This was a great story opportunity that I feel was diminished by having two different adult actors play Brain Wilson.