Love & Mercy
Bill Pohlad's biopic about Brian Wilson takes a fairly bold approach, concurrently telling two stories of the Beach Boy's troubled genius in two different eras, covering both his 1960s meltdown and his 1980s recovery. It's especially bold in that the two actors playing Wilson—Paul Dano in his youth and John Cusack in middle age—look absolutely nothing like each other, and yet they mesh seamlessly, like two instruments playing in different keys making an unexpectedly beautiful sound. Dano's entire career of affected oddballs now feels like a mere warmup to playing the socially awkward young Wilson, and the scenes of Wilson crafting Pet Sounds, creating a masterpiece out of the sound collage of his subconscious, are utterly riveting. The 1980s scenes aren't quite as successful, but Cusack perfectly captures the ghostly sincerity of Wilson from that era, and there are fine supporting turns from Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks. D.B.