Film Review: LOVE & MERCY


Directed by Bill Pohlad

Written by Oren Moverman and Michael Lerner

Starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel

Full disclosure. I am not a fan of biopics–there’s little room for art or an artistic vision. The most successful ones seem to be about men/woman of action. Dramatization of political campaigns or wars or dramatizations of true crimes usually are usually the most satisfying for me. Music biopics can work if the music is plentiful and the life is rough (WALK THE LINE or LA VIE EN ROSE).  LOVE & MERCY would seem to fall into that category and parts of this film did work for me. Scenes of the young Brian Wilson (Dano) in the studio were the most successful. But geez, the other Beach Boys were windup harmonists. And darn, there was not enough of the Beach Boy’s music–even to someone who was not a great fan. So much of the film dwelt on his mental illness–which was not particularly interesting–he seemed to spend most of his time in bed. And the scenes of the older Wilson being coaxed back to life by his future wife (Banks) seemed generic. Paul Giamatti, as caretaker to the adult Wilson, might as well have twirled his moustache. However, there’s (almost) enough good stuff to give it a faint thumbs up. And Dano is definitely on his way to a sterling career. Although I remember thinking that about Cusack some years back.

Patti Abbott
In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in