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Love and Mercy

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Mark Suszko
Love and Mercy
on Jun 6, 2016 at 8:26:31 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jul 5, 2016 at 2:55:06 pm

Love and Mercy is a biopic covering Brian Wilson at two stages of his life, and played by two actors. Paul Dano is Young Brian, and he's eerily good; John Kusack is post-crackup Brian, needing to be rescued from the Svengali-like manager/psychoanalyst who's running his life of isolation.

Kusack plays Old Brian very "small", compared to earlier Dano's Young version, and I think it's a good acting choice, reflecting experiences and different ways of looking at things that evolved from Brian's ordeal. If you watch much footage of Wilson today, Kusack's quiet, halting interpretation is pretty dead-on in posture, in motion, in overall affect, except for the lack of facial tics.

Casting is great all over this pic. Paul Giamati does a tremendous job of creepy, psycho, control-freak scenery-chewer -he's the nice guy that excels at playing creeps and villains.

The casting of Mike Love's part also captures Mike's douchiness and the Wilson Patriach's monstrosity is also portrayed well.

There are some great sequences, well art-directed and edited, of the studio sessions where Brian builds up many of his future masterpieces with The Wrecking Crew, giving you a front-seat glimpse of his process.

So, as with all biopics of pop stars - does it teach you something you didn't know before, or re-frame something you think you knew? This one did, for me. Does it drag you along emotionally, rooting for Brian? Absolutely. Worth watching? I think so, though the "happy ending" is perhaps smaller than you'd hope for, considering the rest of the scary trip. You have to cheer for Brian's survival, and the fact he's still got his gift and is still touring and making new music, some of which is in the film's soundtrack. If you get to see Brian on tour, you MUST take advantage of it - it would be criminal to miss him.

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