Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy is a very entertaining biopic of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson, and hardly the screaming train wreck I expected when I heard that the legendary songwriter, producer, and arranger would be played by two different actors—Paul Dano during Wilson’s glory years in the mid-60s, ending in his complete mental and physical breakdown, and John Cusack during Wilson’s traumatic experience as the patient of bullying psychiatrist Eugene Landy in the early 90s, from whom he was rescued (or so the movie asserts) by Melinda Ledbetter, an LA car dealer who has become his second wife. Having two different adults play the same character at different points in his life has never worked for me, and screenwriters Owen Moverman (The Messenger, Rampart) and Michael A. Lerner heighten the contrast by interpolating the Dano and Cusack story lines. But then, Moverman’s first big success, I’m Not There (2007), split Bob Dylan into six different actors, so I guess this is sort of an improvement. Continue reading >>