Love & Mercy

by | Jun 27, 2015 | 0 comments

John Cusack Hogs His Role And Almost Ruins the Film

It’s hard to make biopics. Only recently have major films managed to hit the mark. Selma and Lincoln hit the sweet spot by only focusing on one major part of their subject’s life (the march of Selma and the 13th amendment respectively). Yes, other films have managed to cover up more time of their subject’s life and have managed to be successful (Milk and Walk the Line are examples), but it’s harder to do and therefore more unadvisable. Love & Mercy, a biopic on Brian Williams, member of the Beach Boys, tries to go the harder route and almost makes it.

Love & Mercy takes place at two different times of Brian William’s life. One is when he and the Beach Boys are rising to fame in the 60s (here he is played by Paul Dano), and the other is in the 80s where we see him broken down and on the verge of insanity (there he is played by John Cusack). In the 60s we see Brian and his genius spurn out tunes for such memorable songs like “Good Vibrations” and “God Only Knows” but we see fame get into his head and his work soon takes over him; he begins to hear voices in his head, becomes overweight, and starts fighting with the other band members. Fast-forward to the 80s we see Brian Williams meet a car saleswoman named Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and they begin to date. Through Miranda’s perspective we see how Brian is at a physical, economical, and psychological low; because of this Brian’s Dr. (a maniacal Paul Giamatti) takes advantage of him and abuses Brian to his benefit.

The film is great in all aspects except one: John Cusack. Cusack is a great actor and he does a fine job in this film, but the problem is that he becomes to focused on his own acting. Yes he portrays Brian’s senseless torment with the most curtailed of details like finger twitching, but with this egotistic focus he completely breaks apart from the rest of the cast. This makes all of his interactions with Elizabeth Banks seem non-credible and downright boring. Banks tries her best to fix the divide, but Cusack is too stubborn. Also Dano’s performance and Cusack’s performance are completely different which makes me see two completely different people in every aspect, they weren’t both Brian Williams, and this lack of coordination was on the verge of being fatal for this film, after all Cusack’s scenes were half of the film.

Fortunately the other half of the film was handled expertly. Paul Dano once again show’s that he is worth more than a simple supporting actor (he first surprised me in There Will Be Blood). Dano perfectly transitions his Brian from eager to mad in a way that makes us feel sentient for him as well. Essentially Dano accomplishes the whole point of the film, which is to glorify Brian for the artist that he is.

Because of Cusack’s solitary performance half the film is slow and boring, but Dano and his portion manage to make the whole film worthwhile. 

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 70% 70%

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What is your favorite Beach Boys song? Let me know in the comments section.

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