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Love & Mercy

Directed by Bill Pohlad

USA, 2014

HOME, 15 July 2015

Love & Mercy

It works well, this film based on the life of Brian Wilson, not least because of the two fine actors who play him, Paul Dano and John Cusack.

We see Wilson at two periods of his life: when discovering his artistic voice and coming up with Pet Sounds, an album where he attempted to ‘play the studio’, as he says here. And later when reaching out to a woman (played by Elizabeth Banks: excellent) and trying to escape the control of a domineering quack psychiatrist (Paul Giamatti: ditto). The psychiatrist is not unlike his father – cruel, abusive, cowardly – and in a curious way it is the insight and feeling of Brian’s youth, as expressed in songs such as the sublime ‘God Only Knows’, that save him later. He need only realise what he always knew – easy, huh?

More music would have been nice, but honestly this is a captivating portrait of a fine human being and a great artist. And as for that avant-garde (or specifically: musique concrete) notion that the studio might be an instrument too: absolute genius.