- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The emotional trials and musical odyssey of The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson arrives on Blu-ray in Love & Mercy (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $24.99) after a critically acclaimed theatrical run earlier this year.

Director Bill Pohlad’s heavily researched, biographical drama offered an unusual take on bringing the tortured artist’s story to light.

For Mr. Wilson’s life in the 1960s, actor Paul Dano delivered a remarkable performance as the quirky maestro beginning to suffer from severe psychological issues. He depicts a genius that turned music recording into an avant-garde art form.

For the creator’s life in the 1980s, actor John Cusack is equally potent portraying Mr. Wilson while treated for paranoid schizophrenia and under the smothering control of Dr. Eugene Landy.

Mr. Cusack presents a completely different man, still filled with child-like innocent and burgeoning creativity but unable to function without his guardian’s approval.

Performances from the character chameleon Paul Giammati as a scary Dr. Landy and Elizabeth Banks as Melinda Ledbetter, the woman who would help break Dr. Landy’s spell and get her future husband on the road to a more permanent recovery, both shine.

Although the movie looks sharp, filling home theater screens in 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is most important here folks.

Besides a soundtrack featuring many of The Beach Boys hits (the harmonies just soar through the speakers), viewers listen to Mr. Wilson direct his assembly of the Wrecking Crew musicians to build the album masterpiece “Pet Sounds.” It’s an aurally fantastic group of scenes for the rock and roll fan in the family.

Besides being able to appreciate a really great movie on demand, a trio of extras also gives enough reason to purchase the disk.

First, Mr. Pohlad and writer Oren Moverman deliver what I am calling a “My Dinner With Andre” optional commentary track. In a very low-key manner, they introspectively analyze the film paying each other occasional compliments while also explaining its level of authenticity due to the tremendous access given to them by Brian and Melinda Wilson during the production process.

Next, a 23-minute featurette offers a behind the scenes overview but spends plenty of time offering images from the Beach Boys archive as well as interviews with the Wilsons.

Finally, of the notable deleted scenes, its worth watching an uncomfortable encounter that actually happened between the overbearing father and former Beach Boys manager Murry Wilson and his sons of Brian, Carl and Dennis during a studio session.

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