It turns out I allowed my gushing enthusiasm for Bill Pohlad‘s Love & Mercy, a critical hit at the Toronto Film Festival over the last few days, to muddle my understanding of the likely distribution scenario. There’s no question that Paul Dano‘s performance as Brian Wilson in Pohlad’s film is a staggering, world-class channelling, but that doesn’t mean shit in the larger commercial scheme. Roadside Attractions apparently intends to open Love & Mercy in 2015, and not even give it a one-week qualifying run later this year to attract year-end accolades. Pohlad reiterated this morning that discussions about the release strategy “are ongoing” but I’ve heard elsewhere that Roadside considers it a 2015 release…period, end of story.
A friend says “if they’re smart they’ll release it in the summer…it ‘s the Beach Boys, man!” I said to him, “You can’t be serious. You’re joking, right? Love & Mercy is not about escapism or sunblock or surfboards or Mike Love‘s bullshit view of the world. It’s about the creative highs and personal lows of a fragile, melancholy man (i.e., Wilson) with dreams in his head….there’s nothing ‘Fun Fun Fun’ about it in the least except for one no-big-deal beach scene and one minor sailing scene.” “Yes,” the guy said, “but it can be marketed to the Beach Boys crowd. There are plenty of fun scenes in it.” What Beach Boys crowd?, I asked. Retirees wearing sensible shoes and thinking about moving to assisted-living facilities? “Yes, the crowd that knows about and cares who Brian Wilson is. I went to his concert at the Greek. It was all paunchy stomachs and thinning hair, my friend.”
That did it. My soul died, the engine stopped. The campaign for Love & Mercy ends here. It’s nothing short of tragic that Dano’s performance won’t be part of the conversation over the next three and a half months.