The handheld camerawork that looks like something out of Albert Maysles’ Gimme Shelter during the recording sessions really doesn’t juxtapose well with the camerawork outside of those scenes. The change back and forth is so drastic that it really took me out of it.
What really elevates the film is the cast. For the most part, every performance in this is great, besides Giamatti. I never got a sense of what Giamatti’s character was actually doing or what he was supposed to be. His performance felt overly cartoonish, especially the scene with soup.
This is the best that I have ever seen Elizabeth Banks. She has great chemistry with the even better John Cusack. Cusack really doesn’t deserve the flack he gets. He was great in this and even better in Maps to the Stars last year. Paul Dano does a fantastic job of playing the young Brian Wilson. I would have liked to have seen more of the traumatic experiences that Wilson dealt with. Pohlad touches upon his relationship with his father, but even that felt a little underdeveloped.
Despite the issues, this is still one of the best biopics in years. It isn’t just a boring history lesson like I find most of them to be. This has genuinely creative ideas behind it. The scenes of recording are enjoyable to listen to, despite the incredibly distracting camerawork. Showing different perspectives of Wilson’s life was also a really nice surprise. Pohlad does a great job of bouncing back and forth between them. The transitions are always smooth between the two. Pohlad holds interest for the whole runtime, which is something I can’t say about many biopics.