The film presents an unconventional portrait of Brian Wilson, the mercurial singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys. Set against the era defining catalogue of Wilson’s music, the film intimately examines the personal voyage and ultimate salvation of the icon. The makers have taken the brave decision to have two actors playing Wilson, one of whom, Paul Dano, looks like him but the other, John Cusack looks nothing like Wilson or Dano. Perhaps because the screenplay is by Oren Moverman, who also wrote I’m Not There, the biopic of Bob Dylan, who was played by several actors and an actress. The device underlines that these are two linked chapters in Wilson’s life.
The film demonstrates how Wilson’s physical abuse by his father left him vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous people, including his psychiatrist Dr Eugene Landy, played by Paul Giamatti. And how he was saved by a Cadillac salesperson, Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), who he first appeals to for rescue and later marries.
Of course the music is gorgeous and Brian Wilson won an award, at the 2015 Nashville Film Festival, for the original song, Love & Mercy, which he wrote for the film.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall