Icon Film Distribution is proud to announce that the Australian premiere of LOVE & MERCY will be held at Sydney’s State Theatre on Sunday June 7, 2015. As announced last month, the film will be featured as part of the 2015 Sydney Film Festival with its first festival screening serving as the Australian Premiere.
We all know the music, but few know the true story of musical genius, Brian Wilson and his struggles with brilliance and balance. Whilst his music shaped our lives, it would be the love of one special woman who saved his.
First time director, Bill Pohlad puts his experience as a producer on films such as 12 Years a Slave, The Tree of Life and Brokeback Mountain to good use. In LOVE & MERCY he paints an unconventional portrait of Wilson, interweaving seminal moments from his youth and later life.
The role of Brian Wilson is masterfully shared between Paul Dano (12 Years a Slave, Little Miss Sunshine) as the younger, 1960s Brian; and John Cusack (Maps to the Stars, High Fidelity) as Wilson in the 1980s. The film explores the many challenges Brian has faced, both from his point of view in his younger years; and from the perspective of his now wife, Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) when she meets Brian in his 40s and under the questionable medical care of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti).
The Beach Boys were already experiencing chart topping success with Surfin’ Safari, I Get Around, Help Me Rhonda, California Girls and Good Vibrations when Brian found himself driven to move in a new musical direction. Whilst this would ultimately lead to the creation of what is widely ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time – Pet Sounds – and songs like Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B and God Only Knows; it also lead to the band breaking up and Brian breaking down.
The films shows Brian becoming more and more isolated from his family and friends to the point where he seems to have been signed over into the care of Landy who seems determined, through overmedication and other manipulations, to keep Brian away from all real connections to the world. When Melinda Ledbetter enters his life, their mutual attraction becomes a bond that the oppressive doctor cannot break.
As few biopics about musicians do, LOVE & MERCY offers a hopeful and happy ending – one that continues to play out in reality today. Brian Wilson’s music continues to resonate with existing as well as new audiences every day. Wilson’s 11th solo album, NO PIER PRESSURE was released earlier this year to critical acclaim. One Kind of Love which is featured on the new album and also in the film has just been recognised as “Best Original Song” at the Nashville Film Festival. More importantly (and even more rare) Brian and Melinda are still together and still in love.
LOVE & MERCY debuted to a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival and has continued to garner critical acclaim including from its showings at the Berlin Film Festival and the South By Southwest Festival.
Words used to describe LOVE & MERCY include, “compelling” (Collider); “dreamy and delirious” (Indiewire); “deeply satisfying” (The Hollywood Reporter); “emotionally exhilarating” and “exquisite” (HitFix); “engrossing” (Indiewire); “extraordinary” (The Washington Post) “tender” (BBC.com) and “touching” (Screen International).
Critics have also hailed the dual performances from Dano and Cusack as, “career-topping performances”; (Indiewire); “groundbreaking” (The Washington Post); “phenomenal” (Bloody Disgusting) and “uncanny” (Mashable Australia). Best known for her work as a comedic actress, Elizabeth Banks has also attracted praise for her career-redefining dramatic performance she gives in the film.
It seems likely that its screenings at the Sydney Film Festival will no doubt attract similar accolades for LOVE & MERCY including the film’s unique style and excellent performances.
Perhaps the best reactions are those from the man who lived the story, Brian Wilson himself