Love & Mercy

LetterboxD review link

I came to Beach Boys’ music in my teens. Somewhere in my childhood I’d heard the Beach Boys used to be popular, so I looked them up. I still listen to Pet Sounds, Sunflower and other albums with the same smile on my face. My adoration for their music is part of why this movie mattered to me.

And I will say this film did Brian Wilson’s contributions to pop music history a lot of justice. Paul Dano brings great life to younger Wilson. His turns on screen, especially in the studio are some of my favorite parts of the movie. The strongest part of this film is the score and the history each of those famous Beach Boys songs carries.

However, the film lacks a central momentum. The flashes back and forth are not flawed in and of themselves, they’re flawed because they lack a central conceit. Also it doesn’t help that John Cusack doesn’t care about anything anymore. (He and Cameron Crowe both were in the theater in the last week or two, but it seems years of money and success has left them limp, with no real zeal for anything anymore).

Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks and other talented supporting actors fall short of delivering strong performances largely because the only emotion we, as an audience, can feel toward Brian Wilson is pity. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for full, diverse depiction of emotions for the actors or the audience.