TSRn: Director of ‘The Messenger’ to write Beach Boy Brian Wilson biopic

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News: Oren Moverman, writer/director of the Woody Harrelson film The Messenger, is set to script a biopic about Brian Wilson, the troubled pop maestro behind the Beach Boys. River Road Entertainment has secured the “life rights” to Brian Wilson and his wife, Melinda.

Source: Deadline

Thoughts by TSR: As pointed out by the brilliant film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the musical biopic is a sub-genre that lends itself easily to similar story arcs and dramatic moments. Every legendary musician seems to go through the same career steps, including having an early relationship with music, diving headfirst into popularity, and the drugs and rocky relationships that follow. Mix unlikely inspirations to now-classic songs with resonant traumatic events, and you’ve got Walk the Line, Ray, and even This Is Spinal Tap.

The story of Brian Wilson, as told in his autobiography “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” could possibly repeat these common elements, but in a tone much more darker than any musical biopic has explored before. The Beach Boys made their legacy on sunny surfin’ classics like “Fun, Fun, Fun,” but Brian Wilson’s psychological history suggests such tunes didn’t exactly come from the brightest of places. Wilson’s history is extremely dark, from his father’s ruthless abuse as a child, to the three years in the 70’s he spent sleeping and taking drugs. On top of that, he had a “failed” masterpiece (“Pet Sounds”) and a career-long competition with the Beatles. Wilson’s life has more than enough compelling chapters to discuss in a film. In fact, it might even be too much – the best way to justify his entire life would be with a mini-series, or a three-hour movie.

I’ve always thought that Brian Wilson’s life had the elements for a thematically challenging biopic, but who wants to see someone try to impersonate their gods? Some pessimism can possibly be treated by the fact that Oren Moverman is writing the biopic, who co-wrote the unusual I’m Not There with Todd Haynes, and is also working on a film about Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. His script for 2009’s The Messenger earned him an Oscar nomination, which also certainly shouldn’t be forgotten. We can at least hope that Moverman doesn’t turn this story into a visual, narrow-minded version of a watered down Beach Boys “Greatest Hits” CD.

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