Movie Review: Love & Mercy

Wouldn't it be nice if it was better

Movie Review: Love & Mercy

So I was REALLY looking forward to this movie and the trailer gave me such high hopes and who doesn’t like the Beach Boys? Maybe hipsters don’t. You’re totally missing out! Anyway, some aspects worked, some didn’t. This review will explore those aspects in depth to help you solidify a decision as to whether you should watch this movie or not. My goodness that sounded like a college paper. Please forgive me. Now let’s get analytical with this shit.

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As it’s been pointed out by experts, before firing anyone list out all the positives before laying down the hammer of justice to fire their lazy ass. So we’ll do something similar here. Here’s what worked for the movie:

1. The Music
Oh come on, you had to see that coming. This movie is filled with the best songs from the Beach Boys. You’ll thoroughly enjoy the opening sequence with their earlier stuff (pre Pet Sounds). The movie focuses on Brian Wilson’s production of Pet Sounds and it’s pretty awesome to see the way he works. You have karaoke moments when he’s coming up with the musical arrangement without the lyrics and let me tell you it is really hard not to sing along to it. Trust me, if you’re a fan of their music, you’ll recognize the song and your friend will have to stop you from providing an impromptu concert in the middle of the movie.

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2. The Actors
John Cusack has been in the biz for some time now and his portrayal of Brian Wilson’s mental state at that time was pretty impressive. Elizabeth Banks surprised me with her dramatic chops. What else can you expect but perfection from Paul Giamatti? However I want to talk about Paul Dano for a moment. I’ve seen him in two movies before; Prisoners and 12 Years a Slave, both of which gave me tendencies to bitch slap his characters to the other end of the planet had I the strength to do so (which is a testament to his acting ability as well). I was a little nervous about this one but my God did he surprise me. I wanted to use the same hand for bitch slapping to hold him and tell him that everything was going to be alright. He was pretty darn amazing in this movie and the standout performance for me. You could see his mind slowly deteriorate, you could feel his pain as he crafted his art, and you sympathize with him as you tag along on his journey. It also helps that Paul Dano has the most innocent face ever. I think that’s why it was creepier when he played psychopaths but here, it makes you feel even more sympathetic towards his character’s arc. Good on you Paul Dano! You’re one talented mofo!

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3. The Sound Effects
Okay, this might be a weird thing to point out since it’s usually a category for awards that we don’t give two shits about, but hear me out. This is probably the closest you’ll ever get to walking in Brian Wilson’s shoes. You hear everything in his head and in the most painstaking, sharpest way possible that you yourself want to scream at others around you, you yourself feel frustrated, you yourself feel scared. If you don’t have a great sense of empathy, this movie’s sound effects will help you develop one. Like seriously. I’m not even kidding. Word of advice, bring some aspirin, you might need it after the movie. Don’t worry it’s a good kind of pain. It’s a right in the feels pain. So basically this will be you during some parts of the movie:

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Based on the reasons stated above, you should watch this movie. Based on the reasons stated below, here’s why you shouldn’t go in with the highest of expectations like I did. This is my contribution to society. You’re welcome.

1. Unrequited love is the suckiest kind of love
Hey remember a few paragraphs ago when I praised John Cusack’s portrayal of Brian Wilson’s mental state at that time. Yeah he did a good job with that. In fact he concentrated so much on it that he forgot to have some chemistry with Elizabeth Banks. Man she was really into it. I believed that her character was truly in love with Brian Wilson but he just…………how do I put it? It looked like he felt sorry for her. It’s so weird and totally contradictory to what’s supposed to be happening. It also doesn’t help that the costume department dressed Elizabeth Banks in outfits to show off that bangin bod she has. John Cusack, I’m a straight woman and even I’d hit that! What’s wrong with you? Just a little more chemistry to make it not seem like she’s the one obsessed with you! This took me out of the movie a little whenever they switched back to the older Brian Wilson. It’s not fun to see someone giving it all they have only to not have it returned. And who can’t have chemistry with Elizabeth Banks??? Have you seen her?

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2. Faces … I can’t see faces!
The director, Bill Pohlad, just had these weird ass angles when it came to capturing performances. It was either someone’s side view or back view. Not much of a front. Is that your personal preference in bed or something? Why is that your angle of choice? Personally, I love seeing an actor’s reaction to something when other characters are in the limelight. Acting is reacting darling. Why do you hide them Bill? Why? The side shots were fine but after a while, there were just waaaaay too many of them!

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It also gives me the assumption that the actors aren’t capable of the emotion required to make the scene work, so you cop out by only showing half their face or none of it. Trust your actors; let your audiences in through your actors. To us, they’re the windows to the movie. We need to see them and relate to them in order to get on board with what’s unfolding onscreen. In short:

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So there you have it. Do watch the movie, but be aware that it doesn’t live up to what it could have been, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some magical moments in the film either. There isn’t a bad time or way to listen to the Beach Boys. Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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