Director Bill Pohlad brings the story of Brian Wilson to life in this remarkable new film. The screenplay cuts back and forth in time focusing on two seminal points in Mr. Wilson's life, the creation of "Pet Sounds" and dealing with his midlife mental issues.
The film opens with the Beach Boys riding high on their success but Brian no longer interested in touring. While the group tours Japan without him, he stays behind to work on what would eventually become "Pet Sounds". The young Brian is played by Paul Dano and he is just terrific. Scenes in the studio, working with the musicians to create the album, you get chills watching him bring Mr. Wilson's genius to life. And you are chilled even further as the "voices in his head" get louder and he begins to totally breakdown.
The older Brian is played by John Cusack and he is just as daunting, tacking mental health issues, and the domineering Dr. Eugene Landry, who was his doctor and legal guardian. Dr. Landry is played by the always reliable Paul Giamatti who overcomes a horrible hairpiece to create a vile human being who almost destroys Mr. Wilson. It is only when Brian meets Melinda Ledbetter (played beautifully by Elizabeth Banks), that, with her love and determination, he is able to get free from Dr. Landry and begin to really live again.
Some of the dissolves between time periods are disruptive and choppy but for the most part the device works and combined with the heartbreaking true story, terrific acting, and the brilliance of Brian Wilson, this is a must see on so many levels.