Paul Dano and John Cusack play Brian Wilson younger and older—and both are spectacular in this well-done biopic focusing on the Beach Boys legend.
Dano occupies the 1960s and ’70s, with Wilson experimenting in the studio, experimenting with drugs and starting to lose his mind. Cusack picks up the story later in life, with Wilson journeying outside after years of seclusion, and eventually falling in love with a car salesman (Elizabeth Banks). Paul Giamatti is sinister as Dr. Eugene Landy, the man who kept Wilson secluded for years and basically terrorized him into remaining mentally ill.
While neither actor is a dead ringer for Wilson, they are successful in capturing his mannerisms. Dano plays Wilson as a man with childlike wonder as he leads dogs into the studio to make music. Cusack gets everything from the facial tics to Wilson’s soft-spoken voice. They both deliver stunning performances—and because the film had the cooperation of Wilson, you get to hear Beach Boys music, too.
Both stories are told in parallel, rather than chronological, fashion, and it’s a great way to see Wilson’s life.
Love and Mercy is playing at the Regal Palm Springs Stadium 9 (789 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 844-462-7342); the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342); and the Cinémas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).