Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road
The Beach Boys’s God Only Knows plays in a recording studio as musician Don Was stands before a gigantic sound mixer. He begins to strip away the tracks one by one until all that remains is the vocal harmonies of the chorus as they interweave to create a haunting texture of sound. Was simply lets a few bars play, and that’s enough to see the musical genius of Brian Wilson in action. Documentary and biopic Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road (from filmmaker Brent Wilson) is a celebration of this genius as viewers accompany the legendary musician, songwriter and producer on a road trip to visit key locations in his life.
With Rolling Stone editor and Wilson’s close friend Jason Fine behind the wheel, a large portion of this feature is hanging out with the pair as they chat about various things and sing along to the radio. The pair’s natural rapport sets a relaxed tone that puts viewers at ease and settles them in for the journey ahead. Likewise, the informal tone does away with a large chunk of the artifice of the filmmaking, consequently reinforcing the reality and (more importantly) the humanity behind everything being discussed.
From his childhood to problems with mental health and drugs, there isn’t any subject that appears to be off the table for Wilson as he talks about his life with Fine the way old friends do. More conventional inclusions like archival footage and celebrity interviewees are likewise used to add to the topics at hand, but where the film shines most is through its thoughtful use of Wilson’s own compositions. By playing excerpts of various pieces at key moments, the documentary draws a tender connection between the artist and his art. Though the documentary is largely a celebration of Wilson’s many achievements, it’s also a love letter to the pop icon and a moving story of survival and brotherhood.
As is typically the case when a documentary has a lot to get through, the road trip doesn’t stop at each destination for long before hitting the road again. For what is there, though, Long Promised Road is a poignant tribute to a music legend and his undying creativity.
Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road is released in select cinemas on 21st January 2022.
Watch the trailer for Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road here: