December 22, 2015

Watching Paul Dano

Paul Dano has been so superb at creeps that you sense come easily to him (12 Years a Slave, There Will Be Blood, Prisoners) that it was good this year to see him take that quality – hurt, which can manifest as something painful or dangerous or sullen – and do more with it, stretch it, in Sorrentino’s Youth and, especially, Bill Pohlad’s Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy. Dano is tremendous in the Wilson film, as the genius drowning in the sounds he hears in his head, but the movie is mostly a straight film about going crazy, with a certain truth to prove. I thought of a different way in: take all the Dano scenes and separate them from the burnt-out John Cusack scenes, and run Inherent Vice in the middle; lead in and out of the join with Love & Mercy’s hallucinatory three Brians in one bedroom (2001: A Brian Wilson Odyssey). That Dano and Cusack don’t really look or seem alike would matter less and the weirdness would increase, with Paul Giamatti seeming like a grotesque who escaped from Inherent Vice: California bad dreaming.