'Love & Mercy' - Movie Review

The movie focuses on two periods in Brian Wilson's life: around the making of "Pet Sounds" in the 1960s, and towards the end of his time under the thumb of his unpleasant therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Gimatti). The younger Wilson is played by Paul Dano, the older by John Cusack. Brian Wilson was (perhaps still is) - according to both the movie and most of the music critics of the last 40 years - one of the greatest songwriters and most influential rock musicians to have ever lived. And "Pet Sounds" was possibly his single most important album ... and also when he really started to unravel mentally. The movie follows the creation of the album and also his travails under the control of Dr. Landy who had misdiagnosed him, was controlling every aspect of his life, and was over-medicating him. Which also happened to be when he met the woman who would eventually become his second wife (played by Elizabeth Banks).

Both versions of Wilson are pretty messed up. And I'm okay with watching Cusack acting messed up. But I've never been a fan of Dano, and watching him act messed up put me right off. It's not precisely that the man's a bad actor, I just ... don't like him. And while I'm happy for Brian Wilson - that he found a good woman and got his head mostly straightened out - the movie seemed to be a lot more about the music than it was about emotional content. I found it somewhat interesting but not terribly rewarding.