Jump to content


Recommended Posts



I had a hard time getting into, letting alone understanding, “Love and Mercy” and more than once during the first hour I wanted to bolt the theatre but I stayed and finally figured it all out!

While the bulk of the film is carried by John Cusack and Paul Dano, both as Brian Wilson, it is the performance by Elizabeth Banks that holds it all together. Dano is Brian during the late 60s and we see how he wrote the music that would become a thread in so many lives while Cusack plays Brian in the 1980s who came under the control of a manipulative shyster, Dr. Eugene Landy, played by Paul Giamatti, who just oozes evil, who was given all legal control of the musician’s life, though how is not really explained. Banks is Melinda Ledbetter who meets the latter Brian and sees the man he really is, who helps him get away from Landy and would eventually marry him.

This is not a play by the numbers Hollywood biography though there are many elements from the abused children angle to the real possibility of a man being easily dominated by another father figure. Yes there are the drugs, the high living, the ‘mad’ genius aspect but this is more of getting into the head of a songwriter and how and where the music comes from and into his descent into an unexplainable diagnosis as a paranoid schizophrenia with hearing voices and LSD which doesn’t help him.

There is no resemblance between Dano and Cusack nor do they ever move or talk the same but both are believable as being the same man. Many of Wilson’s hit songs are heard but not as in a concert but how they sprang from the man’s mind. One example is how much the difference of the sound between a father slapping his son so hard that the latter loses most of his hearing in that ear and a spanking can bring different tones to a song. Another prime example of what made Wilson such a perfect musician was his search for the exact sound of the cellists in “Good Vibrations”.

There is not a false movement by any of the cast and the direction by Bill Pohlad, with the screenplay by Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner, take this far away from ‘just another musical Hollywood biography‘. The sound editing by Atticus Ross and the sound mixing by Edward Tise are works of perfection.

This is not an easy film to watch, get into and/or understand but it is worth the 2 hours of your life to watch it--and how many movies can you say that about?

  • Create New...