Starring: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel
Directed By: Bill Pohlad
Written By: Oren Moverman, Michael A. Lerner
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 1 min
Love and Mercy is not your run-of-the-mill biopic about a musical prodigy. It is about Brian Wilson, and The Beach Boys, but there’s very little information provided here about how the band was formed. No break through song moment that started their meteoric rise to the top. None of the usual coverage of the challenges that follow fame and success.
Love and Mercy tells Brian Wilson’s story from two time periods in his life. During the 60’s when he decides not to tour with the already successful band, and work on their next album alone. And later during the 80’s, when he meets Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), and they deal with the challenges presented by his handler, Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti).
So as I said, it’s not your standard biopic formula, and I really appreciated that. I also appreciated the fine performances from John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti and specifically, Paul Dano. It’s well written, and directed too, I just can’t say I was entertained by it.
This was all sorrowful journey, with little uplift, as it mainly covers the negative influences in Brian Wilson’s life. Primarily focusing on Wilson’s medical problems, his abusive and competitive father, and the crooked Eugene Landy. The love story between Wilson and Melinda never really clicked for me either. As there seemed little to no reason presented that would explain why she would pursue this relationship in the first place. Given Brian Wilson’s clearly confused mental state, and the constant interference by Eugene Landy. Reading up on Brian Wilson’s history with Melinda, we know they eventually got married, but as the movie presents it, a long-lasting relationship seemed unlikely.
Love and Mercy in the end, at least for me, is one of those films I respect, and would recommend you see, especially if you’re a fan of Brian Wilson and the band. I just can’t honestly say I found this journey all that uplifting. It’s a story that dwells too much on the darker moments of Brian Wilson’s life, and only briefly celebrates his triumphs.
I also didn’t walk away from the theater with a better appreciation of the band’s music either. As this piece seemed more interested in exploring the fine line between genius and madness. Rather than develop its love story, and deliver detailed biographical information.
If you’re a fan of The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, then you should find this interesting. The movie is rated PG-13 for some mild language.
It’s a solidly made film, but this isn’t something you need to see in a movie theater. A HD screening at home on a TV, Laptop or tablet will do.
Brian has Melinda brought to his studio. Melinda has been told by this point in the film to never see Brian again by Landy, but she goes anyway. Brian complains about not feeling well, and Melinda encourages him to come with her and get away from Landy. Landy then shows up, which confuses Brian, and despite Melinda’s best efforts, Brian stays with Landy. It’s a really powerful scene, and properly demonstrates the hold Landy had over Brian’s life.