Love & Mercy
Review by Brad Hamlin
Rating: A+


Capturing the complexity of Brian Wilson on film is not an easy task. However, itís been tried before. Making musical documentaries or biopic films, various attempts have been made to capture the dramatic story of The Beach Boys, but never has a film been made with the artistic integrity of an actual Brian Wilson composition: until now.

I recently finished writing a very non-linear graphic novel story depicting a characterís development from childhood to adulthood while mixing elements of his fatherís influence of his life as well. When you tell a story like that and present the images in whatever order they seem or feel relevant as youíre creating the narrative, it can be challenging for the reader to keep it all connected, but I felt it would work visually. I mention this here as I honestly believe the non-linear presentation is closer to real life in its abstraction than telling a story in a straight line from point A to Z.

The fragmentation used in Love & Mercy allows the viewer to toggle back and forth and experience a life in rich brushstrokes unstuck in time. Why is this important? The method creates a more interesting pathway to understanding the overall feeling of the life in question. Whereas, if you tell the story in sequential order, you actually might get a bit bored anticipating what you naturally think is coming next or based what youíve already read.

That said, Iím not saying that Love & Mercy is a William Burroughs novel with all the pieces thrown in the air and glued back together randomly. The narrative is clear, which is essential for any good story, real or not. The clarity and excellence of this film relied on being able to believe in both actors portraying Brian Wilson and to somehow seamlessly travel back and forth between the two men (playing one man) and never feel pulled out of the verisimilitude of the movie.

Paul Dano and John Cusack bring the magic of Brian Wilson alive with passion, skill, and respect. The entire cast is perfect and Love & Mercy does what the best art always does: it makes you feel something. I have said for years that if someone did a film concentrating on the complexity of Wilsonís music, and not just the family drama, they would really have something. Well, here it is.

Catch a wave and see it at a theater near you.


Brad Hamlin
June 8, 2015
Mystery Island Publications


"Love & Mercy Review" by Bradley Mason Hamlin.
Edited by Lucy Hell. © 2015 by Mystery Island Publications. Published: 07.08.15.
All rights reserved.

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