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:: Love & Mercy

Starring Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti, Love & Mercy takes audiences on a compelling journey into the life and mind of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. The film is directed by Bill Pohlad, and delicately explores the strange, wonderful and tumultuous life of Wilson. The film goes back and forth between Wilson’s life in the 60s, when The Beach Boys’ career was at its high-point, and the 80s, when Wilson first met his present-day wife, Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), telling the story of how she saved him. Paul Dano (60s Wilson) and John Cusack (80s Wilson) both portray the eccentric musician excellently.

The 60s part of the film is a more dreamy view of what life was like for Wilson as a young man living the dream in California, struggling with fame, and creating one of the most unique albums of all time, Pet Sounds. Dano’s performance is thoroughly entertaining as he encapsulates a younger Wilson, bouncing about the recording studio, fiddling with various instruments and conducting his little “pocket symphony.” Despite being on the lighter side, this part of the film also shows how Wilson first started having auditory hallucinations, and how it affected his first marriage to Marilyn Rovell (Erin Darke).

The 80s part of the film has a more realistic tone to it, as it tells the story of how Melinda Ledbetter saved Wilson from the crazed Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), who exploited Wilson’s illness for his own gain. Cusack does an excellent job portraying Wilson during this darker time in his life. Dr. Landy, Wilson’s legal guardian for a time, kept him sedated in order to exploit the Beach Boy. The heavy doses of medication that Wilson was on meant that creating music was almost impossible, let alone eating or speaking. He was also banned by Landy from seeing his two daughters. Then, Wilson met Melinda, who changed his life for the better.

Although the two sides of the film are very different, they actually meld rather well together. Love & Mercy may not be for everyone, but if you’re interested in music, psychology, or you just love a good biopic, then this film is sure to be an enjoyable viewing experience.

DVD Extras

A California Story
The Making of Love & Mercy
Deleted Scenes