Movie Review: Brian Wilson – Long Promised Road

Brian Wilson is the subject of the moving character portrait Love and Mercy starring Paul Dano about the genius behind The Beach Boys. Regarded as the true inspiration from their critically acclaimed and hugely influential album ‘Pet Sounds’, Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road chronicles Wilson’s career from his earliest days as a retrospective from the man himself with interviews from the likes of Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and the late Taylor Hawkins.

Having struggled with mental health most of his life, Wilson continues to be an inspiration, touring classic Beach Boys numbers, reclaiming a previously abandoned album and making music is life force. While understandably anxious, having come out of a difficult nine-year conservatorship, ‘Rolling Stone’ journalist and long-time friend Jason Fine interviews Wilson in a similar style to Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’. Listening to music from the age to pass the time, reminisce and jog his memory, we get a candid and stirring up close and personal account through his commentary and memoirs as directed by Brent Wilson.

As intimate as it could get, this gentle, nostalgic and sentimental documentary is the equivalent of a fireside chat with a photo album and record player. Featuring many high profile household name interviewees and some niche figures such as Linda Perry and Don Was who were inspired by Wilson’s significant musical contribution, this tender and heartwarming film offers rich insights into the music industry, a vivid recollection of the band’s heydays with many snapshots in time.

long promised road film

“Seriously good vibrations.”

Covering some of the other band members, the group’s subculture, a domineering manager and most of the career highs, Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road is a testament to Wilson’s enduring passion for music. Connected with surf culture, their music became mainstream as Wilson admittedly went after an album as good as if not better than Rubber Soul from ‘The Beatles’. While the sound of ‘The Beach Boys’ is undeniably uplifting speaking to the heady joys of life and love, the tragedies of Wilson’s challenging career make an ironic and stark contrast.

While honest, Wilson’s naturally guarded interviews leverage subtext in order to mine his answers from the tidbits and emotional responses he is willing to share. A beautiful yet bittersweet chronicle of the man’s career, the pangs of heartache ultimately make way for inspiration of sticking to your dreams no matter what. A wonderful companion to Love and Mercy, both films help fill in the gaps in telling Wilson’s story.

The bottom line: Nostalgic