Love & Mercy

First Hit:  Acting and story was extremely heartfelt while riding the ups and downs of Brian Wilson’s life.

I fondly recall The Beach Boys because I was a beach oriented guy myself in the 1960's.

In 1964 when the Beatles came into the musical consciousness of my life, there was a conflict of who was better. By the Beatles "Revolver", I knew the Beatles had risen to the top. This was partially because of the type of music, but also because of the struggles The Beach Boys were having internally as a group. The focus of those struggles, Brian Wilson, the genius behind the music. He wanted to take the group in a different direction than what they had done in the past.

This film documents Brian of the early years (Paul Dano) and the Brian of the mid 1990’s (John Cusack). Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson (Brett Davern and Kenny Wormald respectively) where brought up by a very mean, aggressive and extremely abusive father, Murry (Bill Camp). It effected Brian the most because he was the songwriter and leader of the group.

In his later years after spending an infamous 2 years in bed, Brian he was then controlled and manipulated by a psychiatrist named Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). The visual likeness of Landy and Murray was amazing and was telling how Brian fell into Landy’s fold. Then there was Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) a Cadillac selling girl who sees Brian as a sensitive honest human being. Her relationship helps Brian to free himself from Landy and his life begins again.

Paul Dano was absolutely amazing at being the young Wilson by giving us a Brian who was always on the edge of sanity. He even looked a lot like a young Brian. Cusack was very strong as the older Brian attempting to find his way back into usefulness. Camp was good as the oppressive and abusive father. Giamatti was almost over the top at the unhinged psychiatrist who controlled Brian for his own purposes. Banks was inspiring and really good as the woman who could see Brian for more than what Dr. Landy was presenting. Michael A. Lerner wrote a fantastic script. Oren Moverman did an amazing job of creating a biography film that was both interesting and compelling to watch.

The music was fantastic; the story even better.