Minnesota filmmaker Bill Pohlad is back in the director's chair – nearly 25 years after his debut – to tell the story of legendary Beach Boys singer-songwriter Brian Wilson.
Pohlad, one of the sons of late Twins owner Carl Pohlad, unveiled "Love & Mercy" Sunday night at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film stars Paul Dano as the young, innovative Wilson and John Cusack as the musician in the later stages of his life as a complicated recluse. Elizabeth Banks also stars as Wilson's second wife, Melinda Ledbetter, and Paul Giamatti plays Dr. Eugene Landy, the controversial psychologist who treated the fragile musician.
"Love & Mercy" is Bill Pohlad's first as director since "Old Explorers" in 1990. Since then, Pohlad has taken on the role of producer through his Minneapolis-based River Road Entertainment, financially backing projects including the Oscar-nominated film "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Tree of Life," and the 2013 Best Picture Oscar winner "12 Years a Slave."
By the looks of early reviews, Pohlad's return to the director's chair is being well-received.
The Hollywood Reporter says "Love & Mercy" is a "deeply satisfying pop biopic whose subject's bifurcated creative life lends itself to an unconventional structure."
IndieWire also praises the film for its unique structure, which leaps back and forth between the stories of the Wilson in the 1960s and the 1980s.
"Dispensing with staid biopic conventions, director Bill Pohlad nimbly intercuts between two key periods in Wilson's life, shining a double spotlight on his rise to stardom with the Beach Boys in the sixties and his remarkable eighties solo resurgence," IndieWire says.
Both publications laud Dano's and Cusack's performances; THR saying "Cusack gives one of the best performances of his career," while IndieWire noting Dano "does a stellar job of discovering the man excited by new musical possibilities, fearful of failure and quietly haunted by the sense that there is something wrong inside of him."
Pohlad tells the New York Times that he's "definitely nervous" as he awaits potential bids from buyers to distribute the film this week, especially since he's directing the film this time around.
“This is much more personal. There’s much more on the line for me,” Pohlad tells the newspaper.
See the real Wilson perform the song "Love & Mercy" below.