In Love & Mercy, two versions of Brian Wilson (musical leader of The Beach Boys) are depicted through Paul Dano as younger, during the height of their fame and John Cusack as older, during his depression in the 80s. It’s two separate stories, cut together back and forth.
I really enjoyed the past portion with Paul Dano because he was so great with the emotion and conveying the inspired creativity of Wilson. I had a hard time with John Cusack as Brian Wilson though. I felt no connection with him. I didn’t like how it went back and forth because it took away from the emotion of each section. They were two different films cut together rather than complementing one another. It was also hard to relate to the later portion because it was such a mystery as to how he got himself in the position with Landy.
Elizabeth Banks seemed lost in her role and honestly, I couldn’t understand why she fell in love with him. Every scene seemed like a huge red flag that should have left her running for the hills. The 80s outfits left a more lasting impression than how their relationship developed.
Only briefly mentioned was how Brian Wilson was inspired by The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. I would have loved to have explored how The Beach Boys and The Beatles were essentially trying to “one-up” each other with their music. However, the focus of the movie is Wilson, so that would have veered too far off course.
I was really looking forward to this, but it totally fell flat. It’s a shame. It’s worth seeing just for Dano’s performance. However, the best part was reminding me to listen to Pet Sounds over again. Do yourself a favor and buy the album.