Published on July 6th, 2015 | by Simon Maracara0
Love & Mercy: The atypical biopic for the atypical music legend
‘Love and Mercy’ is a song released in 1988 by the co-founder and leader of the Beach Boys band, Brian Wilson, and it’s also the name of the 2014 movie, starring John Cusack, Paul Dano and Elizabeth Banks about the famous musician’s life, his creative highs and his traumatic lows.
Directed by Bill Pohand, and to be released in Ireland this week, the film presents two simultaneous timelines: one in the 60’s with a young man taking on the exciting challenge of musically outsmarting The Beatles, played by Dano (‘Ruby Sparks’), and the other in the 80’s presenting a troubled and clearly ill rockstar of years past, played by Cusack (‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ and ‘High Fidelity’). Both are the same iconic character: Brian Wilson.
Dual roles aren’t a new thing in cinema but what makes this biopic different from others is the pace the story takes to show what feels more of a diluted life-long memory, without specifically placing events in time and space, than the adaptation of a best-selling biography. The spectator is pushed right in the middle of the Beach Boy’s stardom and Wilson’s solace at the same time and is invited to slowly connect both scenarios.
A highlight has to be Atticus Ross’s score, composed in its totality by reworking instrumental stems, vocals and chord progressions found in Wilson’s body of work, giving the film the sense of the audio hallucinations that Wilson experienced during his prime after experimenting with drugs in the 60’s. By deconstructing and rearranging his songs it’s easier to imagine what was going through his mind both on his moments of high creativity (maniac) and those of severe anxiety and paranoid (depression). The cinematic language to recreate both statuses is extremely pol