EIFF 2015: Love & Mercy

Film Review by Jamie Dunn | 22 Jun 2015
  • Love & Mercy
Film title: Love & Mercy
Director: Bill Pohlad
Starring: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti
Release date: 10 Jul
Certificate: 15

Two pivotal periods in Brian Wilson’s life collide in Bill Pohlad's dizzying study of the former Beach Boy. One concerns the creation of 1966‘s Pet Sounds, where Wilson swapped his band's fun, fun, fun surfer pop sound for his own idiosyncratic art rock vision. The other takes place two decades later, with Wilson a doped up child-man at the mercy of his machiavellian psychiatrist (Giamatti). The 60s Wilson is played by Dano, the 80s version by Cusack.

Both episodes are sharp mini-movies: the former a spry study in creativity, the latter a kind of emotional prison-break movie. But it’s the way Pohlad knits them together, finding resonances between each Wilson to build a fine-grained tapestry of a lonely, troubled soul, that makes this such a poignant experience. Giamatti overdoes his dastardly shrink routine, but overall Love & Mercy is that rarest of things: a music biopic that doesn’t just tell you about a tortured genius, it puts you in their head. God only knows how Pohlad pulled it off, but these are some good vibrations.

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Love & Mercy's UK premiere is at EIFF 2015:

20 Jun, 5.30pm, Filmhouse

25 Jun, 6pm, Cineworld

Love & Mercy is released 10 Jul by Sony Pictures