There’s a term that has a tendency to be overused, and that’s “tortured genius”. It may never be more accurately used than when it comes to Brian Wilson, the man behind the success and great sound of The Beach Boys. The story of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys has been told many times before, in multiple books and even two different TV movies. The many stories of everything from their domineering father to the drugs and even Wilson’s bizarre behavior, have been well documented. With Love & Mercy, long time and well known producer Bill Pohlad goes behind the lens to Direct one of the most unique biopics in recent years. Pohlad simultaneously tells the story of the two most pivotal times of Wilson’s life. For these two stories, which are separated by twenty years, he chose two actors with very different styles and brought the best they have to offer.
For the 1986 version of Wilson, the choice of Hollywood veteran John Cusack may on the service, appear an odd choice but clearly Pohlad saw something and struck gold. Cusack is much loved and respected throughout the industry. His movies are usually solid and entertaining, but his acting, while never bad, has never been praised… until now. Cusack turns in the greatest performance of his career. Playing Wilson and possibly the most downtrodden point in his life, was no easy task. Pohlad, Cusack and Paul Giamatti, who plays his psychiatrist, caretaker and guardian, re-create this time in his life that even Wilson himself felt overwhelmed when he saw the film, feeling that he was right back in that period himself.
Paul Dano was tasked with the responsibility of showing Wilson during his most ingenious and creative period as he wrote the groundbreaking album, Pet Sounds. Dano is without a doubt one of the best young actors out there. He might not be the biggest name out there, but his quality and body of work speaks for itself. Love & Mercy will also go down as one of his greatest performances of his career.
Without question, Love & Mercy will be a feather in the cap for Cusack, Dano and Pohlad. It is a movie that showcases the brilliance and struggles of Brian Wilson and how he reached through all of that and forged the second half of his life, career and brilliance. To see the creative process of a genius like Wilson is mesmerizing to watch and impossible to understand. It is the result of all of that we have had the privilege of enjoying and never growing tired of for over the last 50 years. The music he has left behind will never grow old and will be around and admired right along side all the other musical geniuses in history from Beethoven and Mozart to Lennon and McCartney. And hopefully this film will be remembered as the definitive telling of a tortured genius who is beloved.