Take a break from Blockbusters and go see “Love & Mercy”, the latest biopic about Brian Wilson, the songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys. I don’t suppose any biopic about Wilson could be definitive, but “Love & Mercy” does a great job. Paul Dano delivers a fearless and sympathetic portrayal of the young man who achieved worldwide success with his band but was still led into very dark places by his father. John Cusack plays the older version of Wilson, a middle-aged wreck struggling to reclaim himself (Cusack has never been better by the way and it’s so good to finally see him on top of his game again). The 1960s recreation is remarkably good, from costuming and often-hilarious hairstyles (especially on the men) to the details of recording music in a studio. The storytelling also benefits from The Beach Boys’ subtly effective music. Supporting roles are expertly filled by such talented actors as Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks and Jake Abel.
I never thought a story about The Beach Boys was the stuff of great drama, but I like a good show-biz story as much as anyone, and I do love those songs. The result is pretty well irresistible. What’s more, Dano, Cusack and company bring their peculiar characters to life and leave us with something to think about, long after the credits start rolling. That’s as much as I could ask of any biopic.