• 'The Look of Love'. (StudioCanal UK)Source: StudioCanal UK
Be inspired and moved by the life stories of these prominent figures.
By
Gavin Scott

24 May 2018 - 1:19 PM  UPDATED 24 May 2018 - 1:19 PM

'Love & Mercy'

M
USA, 2014
Language: English
Director: Bill Pohlad
Starring: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks 
Who's it about?
Beach Boys member Brian Wilson, with a particular focus on his mental health issues. Alternating between events in the 1960s and 1980s, the film covers Wilson's decision to step away from touring responsibilities and downward spiral into a heavily medicted state that allows him to be taken advantage of by therapist Dr Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), who becomes his legal guardian and worms his way into the musician's will. The role of the musical genius is shared between Dano, who plays WIlson in the '60s scenes, and Cusack, who handles the later period.

Love & Mercy will be available on SBS On Demand on Friday 25 May.

'Ali'

M
USA, 2001
Language: English
Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx
Who's it about?
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali during the period from 1964 to 1974. Set against a backdrop of sociopolitical change—the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King feature—Ali charts the highs and lows of the sporting champion. From earning the World Heavyweight Champion title to having it stripped away due to his stance on the war to his later comeback, it was a decade of tumult for Ali, whose personal life was as troubled as his professional career. For Smith, who portrays the boxer, it marked his graduation from action/comedy blockbuster star to serious movie actor, with his performance earning him his first Best Actor nomination.

'Life'

MA15+
UK, 2015
Language: English
Director: Anton Corbijn 
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan 
Who's it about?
Hollywood legend James Dean (DeHaan), ahead of the release of breakout film East of Eden, and photographer Dennis Stock (Pattinson), who was assigned to shoot the on-the-rise star for Life magazine. With a screenplay by Australian Luke Davies and direction from photographer/music video director-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn, this is a study of the relationship that emerges between two men whose careers are both about to take off. Besides the performances by the two leads, Ben Kingsley steals every scene he's in as studio head Jack Warner.

'The Look Of Love'

MA15+
UK, 2013
Language: English
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Steve Coogan, Matt Lucas, Anna Friel
Who's it about?
Strip club proprietor and porn magazine publisher Paul Raymond (Coogan). Bookended by scenes set in 1992, following the death of Raymond's daughter from a drug overdose and before he was declared the richest man in Britain, The Look of Love follows his incredible rise from the late 1950s. Key to Raymond's success was his ability to find creative ways to get around restrictions concerning nudity and his willingness to diversify, branching out from his early days in the theatre to become a powerful property magnate and publishing tycoon. 

'Jobs'

M
Switzerland/USA, 2013
Language: English
Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad 
Who's it about?
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, one of several recent works — both biopic and documentary — that have explored the life of the late tech pioneer. This 2013 film stars Kutcher as the single-minded businessman and also serves as a history of the company he formed with Steve Wozniak (Gad), taking in its birth in the mid-'70s up to its rebirth in the mid-'90s. A supporting cast packed with well-known faces (Matthew Modine, James Woods, Lesley Anne Warren, JK Simmons) helps flesh out proceedings.

'Carlos'

MA15+
France/Germany, 
Language: English, Spanish
Director: Olivier Assayas 
Starring: Édgar Ramírez, Alexander Scheer
Who's it about?
Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal (aka Ilich Ramírez Sánchez), whose life and exploits play out over three feature-length instalments. Set between 1973, as Sánchez (Ramírez) launches a series of attacks in London, and 1994, when he was finally captured after two decades as one of the most wanted men in the world, Carlos features some of the most infamous acts of terrorism in history. Despite the project's length, which was shortened in various ways for different releases, it's a thrilling and shocking look at the emergence of modern terrorism. 

'Patty Hearst'

M
USA, 1988
Language: English
Director: Paul Schrader
Starring: Natasha Richardson, William Forsythe, Ving Rhames 
Who's it about?
As the title suggests, it's about newspaper fortune heiress Patty Hearst (Richardson) and is based on her 1982 autobiography, which gave her account of her kidnapping and imprisonment by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, her joining of the domestic terrorist organisation and eventual arrest after being involved in a number of robberies. In the titular role, Richardson puts in a powerhouse performance, while the film ponders the question whether Hearst was a willing participation in the crimes for which she later went on trial or making choices that would save her life.  

'Bruna: Surfer Girl'

MA15+
Spain, 2011
Language: Portuguese
Director: Marcus Baldini
Starring: Deborah Secco. Cássio Gabus Mendes. Drica Moraes 
Who's it about?
Former sex worker-turned-blogger and media personality Raquel Pacheco (Secco), whose book, The Scorpion's Sweet Venom: The Diary of a Brazilian Call Girl (published under the pen name Bruna Surfistinha), detailed her experience in the world's oldest profession. Bruna: Surfer Girl — the subtitle comes from her nickname — covers her journey from teen rebel to one of Brazil's most famous women. 

Browse the full Biopics collection at SBS On Demand.