John Cusack and Paul Dano star as troubled musical genius Brian Wilson at two pivotal stages of his life – the 1960s, at the peak of The Beach Boys’ fame and the 1980s, as Brian reclaims his life after a mental breakdown.
The Beach Boys have been a part of my life since I was a kid so hearing about this film peaked my interest almost immediately. It really didn’t take long for me to get invested in the film. The story takes place at two different points in Wilson’s life and we get a chance to see the genius that he is but at the same time we get to also sadly see just how much he gets taken advantage of after his breakdown. Dano shines as Wilson in his younger years and gives us a glimpse at the talent he has and the beginning stages of his mental disorder. Cusack is wonderful as Wilson in his later years. I never really knew the troubles that he went through and Cusack was able to convey so much emotion and vulnerability. I was immensely impressed. In recent roles Cusack had seemed to phone in his performances but this movie truly shows how great of an actor he can really be. Dano and Cusack both seemed to disappear in their character and after a while it felt like I was watching Brian Wilson on screen. Although the main focus of the film is on Cusack and Dano I do feel like Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti deserve credit as well. They were great additions to the cast and added so much depth to this heartbreaking but ultimately inspirational film. This is a must see for any Beach Boys fan and it sends a powerful message about people with disabilities that may otherwise get taken advantage of by people. Pick this one up! 9/10
A California Story: Creating the Look of Love & Mercy – This feature shows about the production design side of the film including some of the older Beach Boys performances.
A Side/B Side: Portraying the Life of Brian Wilson – A great 25 minute feature about Wilson that includes interviews and old footage of the singer.
Deleted Scenes – A decent amount of scenes here but don’t offer too much more to the film.
Feature Commentary with Bill Pohlad (Director/Producer) and Oren Moverman (Executive Producer/Co-Writer)