Classic Movie Reviews

Classic Review: Love and Mercy (2015)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Love and Mercy” which originally appeared here.

In the late 1960s, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) stops touring, produces “Pet Sounds” and begins to lose his grip on reality. By the 1980s, Wilson (John Cusack), under the sway of a controlling therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) finds a savior in Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks).

Another one to scratch off my list. I admit that despite liking some of their songs, I didn’t know much about The Beach Boys. Ever since I heard about this film and who was going to star in it, primarily Cusack and Dano, I was immediately interested but I never got to seeing it until now for whatever reason. For those who don’t know the film’s story, it follows Beach Boys member Brian Wilson from the 1960s (Dano) to the 1980s (Cusack). We get to see him from when he stops touring and produces the album “Pet Sounds” and thus begins to lose his grip on reality. Once we get to the 1980s we see him under the control of an overbearing therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Giamatti). When he meets a woman named Melinda Ledbetter (Banks), they quickly begin to develop a relationship. As she begins to witness Landy’s treatment of Brian, she devises a plan to try to save him. This film was definitely fun to watch for me as I got to learn things about the Beach Boys that I never knew. The best example of this was the film’s opening credits which featured the group touring and a few of their performances. The film also featured Brian interacting with the other members of the band which were mostly his family. I will say that the other members in band were mostly non-existent as the film chose to focus on Brian exclusively focusing on his life and his artistic process. This process consisted of him experimenting with melodies, instruments, and lyrics in order to create music which one could feel. This definitely was entertaining to watch as we saw him bring in a plethora of musicians and instruments into the studio playing around with different sounds until he got exactly what he wanted. I personally would have liked to have seen more of his bandmates as it seemed like he was just the man behind the scenes (I don’t know for sure if that was the case). The film time jumped between then and the 1980s where we see an older, more troubled Brian (Cusack) who meets a woman named Melinda Ledbetter (Banks). He clings onto her as a possible way out of his current life which is seemingly under the control of his therapist and legal guardian, Dr. Landy (Giamatti). He has diagnosed Brian with paranoid schizophrenia but based on Dr. Landy’s handling of Brian, Melinda hashes out a plan to try and save him. Another thing I would have liked to have seen was Landy’s intentions or motivations as they were never clear to me. I have to say that the best part of this film are all of the performances in the film as I thought they were all great. Dano was great as the younger Wilson, delivering an understated performance as the eccentric, musical genius he was. Cusack was amazing as the older Wilson, portraying hitting rock bottom while also continuing with a similar portrayal as Dano. Banks was great as well as Melinda having the strength for herself and Brian during his hard time. Giamatti was perhaps over-the-top but great as well as Dr. Landy. It’s a shame that I never saw the film until now because it definitely would have been on my top 10 list for 2015. I’m glad I got too see it now. Overall, this is a great biopic told in an original way led by great music and great performances.

Score: 9.5/10

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