In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
Brian Wilson is the creative soul of the Beach Boys, but he paid a heavy price for his talent. That especially shows during his peak artistic years in the 1960s, as his inner demons and obsessions trying to please his abusive father drive him to a mental breakdown that would plague him for years. In the 1980s, with Brian barely functional under the domination of the unscrupulous Dr. Landy, Brian meets and falls in love with Melinda Ledbetter. As their relationship grows, she observes Brian's crippling subservience to the abusive psychotherapist with growing alarm. Ultimately, she must take action with a love willing to stand up to oppression she cannot ignore.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
A tape box labeled "Good Vibe / Percussion" is visible in the background of one studio scene, and it refers to a real outtake from "Good Vibrations" recorded on September 1, 1966. See more »
Van Dyke Parks claims that he had been writing lyrics professionally since he was 14-years-old. While the real Van Dyke Parks began his professional career as a child actor, it wasn't until 1964 (at the age of 21) that he began taking an interest in songwriting and composing. See more »
[after a panic attack]
I don't know. It was like - weird. Like I was in a movie or something. Like there were things there that I could see all of a sudden. Strange things. And people talking...
You mean like voices? Voices in your head?
Well, kind of! Yeah, I guess.
[Carl and Dennis exchange tense looks]
[imitating Sonny the Cuckoo Bird]
I'm Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!
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First, there's concert footage of the recent Brian Wilson, himself, singing "Love & Mercy", and then at the very end there is audio of a brief recreated studio recording of Good Vibrations, with '60s Brian leading the dialogue. See more »
This is the story of Brian Wilson during two time periods. In 1964, Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) has a panic attack and quits touring with the band. Instead he concentrates on writing for the new record Pet Sounds. He struggles from his abusive father and starts hearing voices. In the 80s, Brian (John Cusack) is under the control of his therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). He buys a car from saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) who eventually breaks Landy's hold on him.
This is a compelling biopic of an interesting person. Paul Dano really hits it out of the park. His section has some great scenes. On its own, John Cusack does a great job. Put together, I can't help but think that Cusack is doing a passable imitation of Dano's performance. I'm not judging their relative acting skills. I just think that Dano has always played this type of character and he simply fits better. I'm certain that Dano would be nominated for an Oscar if he played both time periods. Landy is the villain of the piece and Giamatti plays him with gusto. For a more nuanced character, the movie needs to show his character saving Brian at the beginning. Splitting the time period so neatly does lessen some important sections of Brian's life.
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