Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson And The Story Of Smile

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Sir George Martin, Andrew Loog Oldham
Director: David Leaf

The story that turned into legend has found an outlet in this documentary on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and the experimental 37 years in making the album. This documentary starts off with Brian in current times talking in a studio about his origins and then it shows through a collection of recorded video clips, TV interviews and photos how he became a star singer and producer whose strive for perfection and association with mind altering drugs would ultimately lead him to a nervous breakdown.

The film succeeds mainly because it allows Brian Wilson himself full rein to simply speak about what he was thinking and what he felt he was going through at the height of his success when he shockingly failed to deliver the most anticipated album of its time aptly titled SMiLE. Incorporating full live performances from his past and leading up to a climatic performance of his recently completed SMiLE album live at the Royal Albert Hall, London this is a touching, poignant emotional journey that celebrates the strength of the human spirit and also celebrates the trials and tribulations of one of the greatest musicians of this century.

With appearances form Jeff Bridges, Sir Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Rob Reiner, Sir George Martin of the Beatles fame and many other famous faces it gives you an understanding of the man from many views. One particularly moving scene is captured perfectly as he performs ”’Good Vibrations’ live at the Royal Albert Hall to a great round of applause from a multi-cultural audience that travelled across the world to see and hear him sing.

Despite being a good documentary, it does not seem clear about whether it is telling Brian’s tale or SMiILE’s tale. Nonetheless it is an accomplished film that reminds you of the best.

3 out of 6 stars