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Check out this great movie before it leaves Prime Video next week

Few genres have more well-worn tropes than the music biopic. It’s a genre that was lampooned so effectively in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story that it feels like a minor miracle that people kept making them. Thankfully, sometimes a film reminds you of the power the genre can possess when it’s in the right hands.

In Love & Mercy, we learn the story of The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, the musical savant behind the band’s most lasting songs and a man who has struggled with mental illness throughout his life. The movie is leaving Prime Video at the end of December, but here are three reasons you should check it out before then.

It’s an unconventional biopic

Love & Mercy Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Brian Wilson Biopic HD

Instead of chronologically telling the story of Brian Wilson’s time with The Beach Boys, Love & Mercy confines itself squarely to two important periods in the man’s life. The first is in the 1960s, when the band was at the height of their power, and Wilson wanted to make their music more experimental.

It’s these experiments that will ultimately lead to the band’s best work, but they also come with the arrival of Brian’s mental illness, which will haunt him for decades. The second is in the 1980s when Wilson is firmly under the thumb of his manager, who is keeping him totally cut off from the rest of the world.

It features a pair of great lead performances

Paul Dano in Love & Mercy.
Lionsgate

Because Love & Mercy‘s story is split in half, the film features not one but two great lead performances. The Fabelmans actor Paul Dano plays Wilson in the 1960s, and John Cusack plays him in the 1980s. The two performances have certain things in common, but part of what makes them great is that it doesn’t feel like one actor is working too hard to mimic the other.

Both actors clearly have their own takes on the character, and watching how those takes interact is fascinating. Dano, in particular, is riveting as a man who is clearly brilliant but is also struggling to understand what exactly is happening inside his head.

It’s a reminder of the greatness of The Beach Boys

John Cusack in 'Love & Mercy.'
Love and Mercy Lionsgate

In the 1960s, the competition for greatness between The Beatles and The Beach Boys was intense, but as time has passed, The Beatles have definitely cast a longer shadow on the cultural imagination. Love & Mercy is a reminder that Wilson was a genuine genius, and much of the music the band produced in their heyday was both revolutionary and irresistible.

If you want a crash course in The Beach Boys, or you’re already a fan and want to appreciate their music even more, there are worse things you could do than turn on Love & Mercy.

Love & Mercy is streaming on Prime Video until Jan. 1, 2024.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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