June 23, 2017 | Rome, Italy | °C
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Biopics

Christine

Antonio Campos' take on the Christine Chubbock suicide is all about the stunning Rebecca Hall.

Drama

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Macon Blair channels his inner Coen Brothers vibe to sketch out a screwball noir.

Equity

Meera Menon's Wall Street thriller breaks gender stereotypes, with Anna Gunn shining bright.

Horror

Train to Busan

Say this about Yeon Sang-ho's seemingly infinite collection of zombies: they keep on coming.

The Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refn's acid trip excoriation of the modeling industry is a sexual muddle.

Thrillers

The Shallows

Blake Lively and a "Jaws"-inspired shark are all the fun in this taught thriller.

Split

M. Night Shyamalan seems well on his way to a comeback movie when he loses the plot.

Science Fiction

Embers

Clare Carré's dreamy debut has lofty aims but ends up going around in tedious circles.

H.

If apocalyptic atmosphere is your cup of tea, check out Rania Attieh's and Daniel Garcia's tribute to Homeric tidings.

Fantasy

The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos's wondrously bizarre love parable creates a credible alternate universe.




Date: 2014
Directed by: Bill Pohlad
Starring: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti

Love & Mercy

Bill Pohlad's eminently decent biopic about the life and times of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson takes the toughest possible route in attempting to portray the evolution of an unstable but deliciously gifted musical mind. The film covers two Wilson's, the 1960s California boy mostly out of synch with his band-mates but tuned into the remarkable sounds in his head (Paul Dano), and, more significantly, the forty-something Wilson (John Cusack) soon after his brother's 1983 death, by then diagnosed as paranoid-schizophrenic and under the obsessively nutty and manipulative care of quack psychotherapist Eugene Landy (a weirdly effective Paul Giamatti).

It is Cusack's well-played older Wilson who meets Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) in what Pohlad uses as a sentimental trigger to bring troubled the Wilson whole together. Pohlad seems less interested in music and more in mental harmonies and their disruption, as if trying to create a blueprint for what makes melancholy genius tick. "Even the happy songs are sad," a skeptical Mike Love complains at one point. But the young Brian can't stop composing them, in defiance of a fired daddy–manager whose love and respect he still wants to win but can't.

All this makes for an interesting if not entirely convincing story, since neither youthful nor older Brian has the screen time necessary to fully anchor his character. There's no denying Brian Wilson his place among pop-rock's legends. There's also no denying Pohald's poignantly noble intentions on behalf of the boy who heard voices (the genesis of "Good Vibations," Brian's "pocket symphony to God," is lovingly reconstructed). Rarely, however, is the Wilson riddle full enough to fathom, leaving fans to revel in their appreciation of him and non-fans to wonder at all the fuss.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

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