Whoever did is a genius. It not only works...it works perfectly.
Full disclosure: I worked for John Cusack for five years and he's a really nice guy, but that's not why I think he's a great actor. He's made a number of good films but more that were not so good. Regardless of the film, his performances are reliably wonderful, but so many of his films have fallen off the radar pretty quickly so he doesn't get the credit he deserves.
I think this is his turning-point role, and will earn him an Oscar nomination.
He melts into the part of Brian Wilson but his performance is not caricatured. It's understated (and if you read my reviews you know that's a big plus in my book), and his chemistry with Elizabeth Banks is palpable. I couldn't help but wonder if they had a little thing going in real life.
Paul Dano is wonderful as the young Brian Wilson. He's physically closer to the part than Cusack but it was great casting all around.
The story goes back and forth between the Beach Boys' beginning to the 80s when Wilson was an emotional wreck, and being controlled by his doctor. It's not your typical bio-pic. There have been some great ones, and Love and Mercy is right up there with the best.
The one nit I have to pick is the ridiculous wig Paul Giamatti wears as Dr. Eugene Landy, whose hair never looked close to that, as far as I can tell. It's a small nit, but that kind of thing is so distracting. Did they run out of budget? It's a credit to Giamatti's performance that after a bit you can ignore it, but it's all in the details, isn't it?
I predict that not only will Cusack get an Academy Award nomination, but so will Elizabeth Banks, and so will the film for Best Picture.
Five out of five stars for Love and Mercy.