In the 60s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 80s, 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)
The film takes place in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1986 and 1987. See more »
When Murray Wilson tells Brian that he sold the rights to The Beach Boys' music, he states he sold the rights for $750,000. In reality, the rights were sold for only $700,000. 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 »
The version which premiered at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and a few subsequent public screenings contained a few extra scenes, such as an "I Get Around" studio sequence, and a scene where Wilson meets Phil Spector on the street. The closing song "One Kind of Love" was also absent from this cut. See more »
There have been plenty of great musician biopics over the years, but I can't remember there being two incredible ones in the same year. Straight Outta Compton and Love & Mercy are two very different films in terms of structure and story for that matter, but both are equally as gripping and satisfying.
Focusing mostly solely on Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys leader, Love & Mercy tells the story of Brian in the early days of the band, and also his days in his 40's when his therapist controlled most of his life. The film's structure goes back and forth between these two eras with Paul Dano playing Wilson in his early days and John Cusack later on. Both of the performances exude a great amount of pain and suffering while still feeling relatable at the same time. Bill Pohlad also deserves a lot of credit for his ability to weave the two time periods together in seamless fashion.
The music of The Beach Boys will suck you in from the start, but it's really the writing, direction, and performances that keep you watching. The eerie tone is not that of a mainstream film, but that's a good correlation to the not-so-mainstream 'Pet Sounds' album the group worked on for a majority of the early years scenes. The film also does a good job of portraying the crazy genius that Brian Wilson was. His ability to mix song structure and break the norm of music at that time and even stray away from where the group was is unparalleled and extremely risky.
Paul Giamatti plays a similar back-stabbing character as he does in Straight Outta Compton, but it fits perfectly for his strengths. Really, there aren't any real weaknesses of this film. It's captivating throughout and the performances may even be worthy of some recognition come awards season. A job well done.
+Both lead performances
+Bill Pohlad's consistent direction
+Who doesn't love the music?
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