Love and Mercy Review

Love_&_Mercy_w300SCORE: 7.8 (VERY GOOD)

RATED: PG-13 (thematic elements, drug content and language)

NOT IN 3D

NOT IN RPX

Love and Mercy (directed by Bill Pohlad) is the mostly interesting biopic about the mental and musical experiences of Brian Wilson, singer and songwriter for the Beach Boys. The film has two stories, one in the 60s about Brian wanting to write something different which leads to the making of Pet Sounds. The parts in the 1960s are the film’s best moments, they’re entertaining, beautifully shot, and have something which most music films get wrong, correct recording studio setups. These scenes also have Brian go through changes in his mental condition. In the other storyline, which takes place in the 1990s Brian falls in love with Melinda Ledbetter (played by Elizabeth Banks), who is his current wife, but Brian is different, his mental health has changed significantly due to an incorrect prescription for his mental illness. Dr. Landy (played by Paul Giamatti) always follows Brian, he completely controls Brian to the point where Brian is afraid of Dr. Landy. Landy’s interest in Brian is also entirely financial, he only sees Brian as a way to make more money. Brian and Melinda’s love story is challenged by both Brian’s illness and by Dr. Landy. The 1990s storyline wasn’t half as interesting as the 1960s storyline, it lacked the music and the beautiful camera shots that made the 1960s portions so great. Due to the 1990s portion not being very entertaining, the film has some serious pacing issues, the audience would be excited and loving the music scenes, but when the film suddenly switches to the 90s, the magic is gone. While parts of the 1990s material is fine, especially towards the end of the story, none of it deserves to be in the same movie as the 1960s scenes. Since the film has two storylines taking place 30 years apart, two different actors play Brian Wilson, in the 1960s there’s Paul Dano and in the 90s there’s John Cusack. Paul Dano gives an Oscar-worthy performance, he convinces the audience that he IS Brian Wilson. His facial expressions show the audience when his mood changes, his line delivery is brilliantly timed, and in one specific scene at a dinner party, his performance is chilling. John Cusack’s performance is fine, but his performance doesn’t compare to Dano’s. Cusack, however, is playing a different Brian Wilson, a broken Brian Wilson. In the beginning, Cusack’s performance feels wrong, but it grows on the viewer. Cusack is fine, but not Oscar-worthy like Dano. Overall, Love and Mercy is an interesting, if not poorly paced, biopic about Brian Wilson, it’s a must for fans and just music enthusiasts in general.

Pros:

  • Dano’s Performance
  • Beautifully shot
  • Music career is interesting
  • View inside of Wilson’s head

Cons:

  • Poorly paced
  • 1990s story doesn’t compare to the 1960s
  • Elizabeth Banks is a strange choice
  • The beautiful camerawork is missing the 1990s scenes

Masterpiece Classic: The Diary of Anne Frank Review

annefrank_w300GRADE: B

UNRATED

MINISERIES

[Brief editors note, this review of a miniseries from 2009 was put on the website because I watched this film in my 8th grade class and was asked to review it. While jacksreviews has been inactive for a long time, it will be coming back very soon.]

Masterpiece Classic: The Diary of Anne Frank is a good, but not great, film about Anne Frank. The film has many moments where it feels like it’s hitting the right notes, and that’s for most of the runtime, but at times, the film is haunted by poor dialogue, mediocre acting, and awkward cinematography. All of those issues are understandable especially since it was a five-part miniseries.

Ellie Kendrick, the actress chosen to play Anne Frank, did a great job as Anne Frank in my opinion. She came off as the talkative yet deep girl from history which was a pleasant surprise since child actors are always risks. The real issue, however, is a poor performance from Geoff Breton, who plays Peter. It may have been the poorly written dialogue in the love story between Anne and Peter or just Breton’s botched delivery of his lines, but Peter comes off as almost creepy in some scenes.
The film (or miniseries) also suffers from underdeveloped side characters and out of place British accents. The accents are understandable since the film is Masterpiece Classic (about as British as it gets), but German accents may have made some of the performances feel more authentic. Underdeveloped side characters plague the film though. While the book (or what we know of the true story) doesn’t necessarily have the same development for Anne as it does for the side characters (most likely due to being written by Anne Frank), the film can’t help but feel empty in the end when the Van Daans didn’t change at all and Mr. Dussel changed a very small amount.
The film does an excellent job, however, of showing what must be going through Anne’s head in the beginning and her dedication to writing. While Anne’s relationship with her mother makes Anne just seem like a bad person to her mother in the film as opposed to in the book, other moments inside of Anne’s head make up for this. The director shows people watching how little Anne knows about what is going on in the beginning with swift movements and thoughts of non war related things during shocking events. Another added bonus in the film is the unexpected appearance made by Oscar nominated actress Felicity Jones as Anne’s older sister Margot.
Overall, Masterpiece Classic: The Diary of Anne Frank is worth your time as long as you can get past slower patches, some poor dialogue and performances and out of place British accents. Beyond that, it is a well directed film that captures the feeling of being trapped in a bunker well.