Producer-director Bill Pohlad, screenwriters Oren Moverman and Michael A. Lerner, and actors Paul Dano and John Cusack perform wonders with the pop star bio subgenre. In their hands, the semi-tragic story of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and his bumpy middle age take on a miraculous glow, with Dano portraying the younger, Top 40 Brian and Cusack handling the drugged-out, victimized older Brian, who finds himself under the control of a manipulating psychologist (Paul Giamatti). Pohlad’s cast and crew assemble the elements of Wilson’s troubled emotional life with such imagination and daring that the movie sweeps us off our feet. Even if we knew nothing about the Beach Boys and their 1960s surf hits, this would be a vividly impressionistic portrait of an artist, with superlative effects and sound engineering to go along with the moving performances of Dano, Cusack, and Elizabeth Banks, who plays Wilson’s guardian angel girlfriend. Highly recommended (120 min.).
Director: Bill Pohlad
Producer: Bill Pohlad, Claire Rudnick Polstein, John Wells, Ann Ruark, Jim Lefkowitz and Oren Moverman
Cast: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Bill Camp, Joanna Going, Dee Wallace, Kenny Wormald, Erin Darke, Brett Davern and Graham Rogers