Writer: Oren Moverman, Michael A Lerner (Screenplay) Brian Wilson (Based on the life of)
Starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Brett Davern
Plot: In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
Tagline – The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson
Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Wonderful Look at a Great Musician
Story: Love & Mercy starts by taking us to two different stages of Brian Wilson’s life, first the 60’s (played by Dano) as he starts to isolate himself from the band as he works on the latest album for the band, one that gives them a different sound to what the Beach Boys were known for.
The second time is in the 80s where Brian has been struggling with his own health issues dealing with his psychosis, which makes him socially awkward at times, trying to start dating car saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Banks) with the watchful eye from therapist Dr Eugene Landy (Giamatti). We follow both the struggling times Brian goes through and how he deals with them.
Thoughts on Love & Mercy
Characters – Brian Wilson was one of the greatest musical minds of all time, following two different stages of his life in this film. The 60s version of Brian shows how the success has been making the band one of the biggest in the world, how he wanted to stop touring to work on the next album with a different tone to the music. In this time, we see how the drugs start to take over his life and his obsession with trying to find a new sound risks the success of the band and we see the early moments of his psychosis coming through. In the 80s version we meet a broken man, one that has been through the worst part of his life, but needing guidance and medication to get through the day. He is trying to have a relationship with his disease controlling what he goes through, we see the darkness take over at times. Melinda is a car saleswoman that meets the older Brian and the two strike it off as we see how she tries to get involved in the relationship while dealing with the Eugene figure. Dr Eugene Landy is controlling Brian’s life in the 80s, he has helped him turn his life around after the problems he faced in the 70s, his methods seem extreme and what he puts Brian through are exposed by the end of the film.
Performances – The performances here are brilliant throughout, Paul Dano as the younger Brian shows just how wonderful a performer he is, by using certain scenes for his singing skills. John Cusack is great in the older version of Brian showing us that given the right material he can shine. Elizabeth Banks is great in the supporting role looking just as confused and concerned to everything going on in Brian’s life. Paul Giamatti is great too and we know he can always hit the marks in this type of role.
Story – The story here follows two moments of Brian Wilson’s life, the first is the one where he is trying to change the music and starts to get the first signs on his psychosis, the other is how easily he could become exploited by having someone try and control his life. The first part is a story we could believe happening to a wonderful musician, the second is a story that is hard to believe that someone would do that to someone. This story is set so the stories run side by side showing us how he can be fully functional at times, but how he can become distant and isolated at others. I know this is more about the personal battle Brian goes through, but I would have liked a little bit more on the history of the musical side of his career.
Biopic/Music – The two moments, well years that we follow in Brian’s life include the 60s and 80s, they are part of the most interesting as it shows the biggest change Brian goes through and the biggest battle he must come up against. We do have moments of the singing, if you don’t know the Beach Boys songs you might struggle to understand what the biggest songs are.
Settings – The film uses the settings to show us just which era we are going through, they show the lifestyles the characters would be going through without needing to throw in any main stream events.
Final Thoughts – This is a wonderful look at the musician Brian Wilson, follow two parts works too, instead of the full life moments. If you like the Beach Boys this is a must watch.
Overall: Beach Boys fans watch.