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REVIEW — “Love & Mercy”

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It’s very rare that a bio-film comes along that really educates you on someone’s life. A lot of times these things gracefully touch on the already known highlights of someone famous, but with “Love & Mercy” we get a really good look behind the curtain. I didn’t know half the things I learned in this, and it makes for a very dramatic and emotional film carried by more than capable actors.

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The cast is what really sets this apart from other biopics, as every main actor really brought their A-game. Elizabeth Banks was able to display charm, compassion, confusion, and stern defiance as she learned about her significant other. John Cusack delivered what is possibly the best performance he has had in the better part of a decade, and Paul Giamatti does the same. However, it’s Paul Dano, who is almost always called out as amazing in every film, which steals the show. I don’t know what it is about him, but he just sinks his teeth into these roles, and acts the crap out of them. He creates such dynamic and interesting characters that his presence is always missed when he is off screen.

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The writing and direction was spot on as they filled us in on just enough information across the board. They taught us about the creation of certain songs, they showed us Brian Wilson’s descent into madness, they showed us how the band dynamic worked, and more importantly how it impacted our lead. There was hardly a dull moment in this, but that’s not to say the flick is exciting. When they hit the music scenes they hit it hard, but the forward momentum of the flick is often lost during the awkward dating scenes. However, these scenes are important to the development of the relationship between our leads, but the chemistry between Cusack and Banks was lacking.

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“Love & Mercy” not only works as a Brian Wilson biopic,, but as a Beach Boys biopic as well. Killing two birds with one stone is always ok in my book, and it leaves the audience both entertained (such great music), and somewhat disturbed at the truth behind this musician. Great cast, excellent writing, and very interesting material make “Love & Mercy” as a must-see for audiences interested in this genre of music, or just compelled to learn a bit about someone else. 4/5

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