‘Love & Mercy’ Trailer: God Only Knows How Paul Dano and John Cusack Both Play Brian Wilson
I know Brian Wilson, the genius behind the great pop group the Beach Boys, had a tough decade or two after the collapse of his band. But to transform from Paul Dano to John Cusack in the span of a couple years? Those are some seriously hard times.
In the new Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy both men play Wilson at different points in his life. Dano plays young Brian at the height of the Beach Boys’ fame and creative brilliance. Cusack plays the older Brian after he began struggling with serious mental illness and came under the influence of a corrupt psychotherapist named Eugene Landy (played in the film by Paul Giamatti, the king of corrupt sleazebags). The two actors work in concert (so to speak) to create a singular portrait of this great, tortured artist.
Love & Mercy, which features the Beach Boys’ music and vintage recordings, premiered at lat year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and it’s generally received pretty strong reviews throughout its festival run. Former ScreenCrush writer Mike Ryan saw the film at Toronto and had good things to say about it as well, writing last fall that it’s “better done” than previous fiction movies about the Beach Boys with a very strong performance from Cusack in “full ‘I give a s---’ mode.” All encouraging signs for me, even if I’m still unclear how Dano could morph into Cusack. That Landy guy must have been giving Brian Wilson some crazy medication. Love & Mercy opens on June 5.