Few musical acts are as widely beloved as the Beach Boys. Under the visionary leadership of singer-songwriter Brian Wilson, the California surf combo redefined the sound of American popular music in the 1960s. But their joyful harmonies and ingenious arrangements concealed Wilson’s private struggle with addiction and mental illness, and by the early seventies he had descended into drug-fuelled isolation. Love & Mercy is an intimate rendering of Wilson’s mercurial genius, illustrating both his musical mastery and the psychological pain it disguised. Dispensing with staid biopic conventions, director Bill Pohlad nimbly intercuts between two key periods in Wilson’s life, shining a double spotlight on his rise to stardom with the Beach Boys in the sixties and his remarkable eighties solo resurgence. As the younger Wilson, Paul Dano gives a superb performance that conveys the artist’s prodigious gifts as well as his increasingly precarious mental state; the scenes of creative exploration during the Pet Sounds sessions are exhilarating. John Cusack is equally compelling, burrowing into himself as Dano’s middle-aged counterpart.
Event: The screening on Sun 12 Jul at 15:50 will be introduced by Andy Murray, freelance writer and ardent Beach Boys fan.
“Original, smart and affecting.” 4/5
“Love & Mercy is that rarest of things: a music biopic that doesn’t just tell you about a tortured genius, it puts you in their head.” 4/5