A very well acted biopic of legendary songwriter Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. A touch predictable, though. After all, (I don’t think this is much of a spoiler, but) whenever you have a character split between two time periods, you go into the film knowing that at some point they’ll at least metaphorically come face to face. At least the film tried to do this in a way that would almost make Alejandro Jodorowsky proud.
But the film had a tough task. How do you show the life of a rock legend with a storied half-century career in two hours? One is by using the kind of trick I just mentioned. Another is to avoid direct dramatic reinterpretations of (real or imagined) biographical events, and allude to them instead, which is a plus. (Cheeseburger, anyone?) Another involves making the delineation between the story’s heroes and villains as stark and simplistic as possible. The results on this score are mixed. You get Paul Giamatti’s awesome scene-chewing Dr. Evil, but you also get not very nuanced portrayals of Mike Love and Murray Wilson that serve only to make you rage against their toxicity to Brian’s creative spirit.
As enjoyable as the ride was, some questions nagged me throughout the film. It’s one thing to depict a person’s behaviors. But part of Wilson’s struggle was the fight to transfer what he heard in his head as faithfully as possible to tape. How could any movie deign to try depicting what’s in his head for a moviegoing audience? Was I being a little foolish for not realizing from the outset that this ride could only take me so far? On the other hand, if Wilson himself is happy with the film, what do I know?