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Love & Mercy (2014)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, Music | 19 June 2015 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Bill Pohlad

Writers:

Oren Moverman, Michael A. Lerner (as Michael Alan Lerner) | 1 more credit »
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3,331 ( 2,296)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 20 wins & 55 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Dano ... Brian - Past
John Cusack ... Brian - Future
Elizabeth Banks ... Melinda Ledbetter
Paul Giamatti ... Dr. Eugene Landy
Jake Abel ... Mike Love
Kenny Wormald ... Dennis Wilson
Brett Davern ... Carl Wilson
Graham Rogers ... Al Jardine
Erin Darke ... Marilyn Wilson
Bill Camp ... Murry Wilson
Joanna Going ... Audree Wilson
Nick Gehlfuss ... Bruce Johnston
Mark Linett Mark Linett ... Chuck Britz
Johnny Sneed ... Hal Blaine
Gary Griffin Gary Griffin ... Al De Lory
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Storyline

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 (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, drug content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 June 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ahava va'khesed See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,122,177, 7 June 2015

Gross USA:

$12,551,031

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$28,641,776
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Brian's father Murry (Bill Camp) plays "I Live for the Sun" by the Sunrays and tells Brian that it's going to be a No. 1 hit. The highest "I Live for the Sun" climbed on the Billboard Top 100 was No. 51. See more »

Goofs

In the studio, the baritone saxophone player is seen with a Yamaha baritone saxophone. Yamaha didn't make baritone saxophones until 1969. See more »

Quotes

Melinda Ledbetter: When did you first start hearing voices?
Brian Future: 1963
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »


Soundtracks

Heart Full of Soul
Written by Graham Gouldman
Performed by The Yardbirds
Courtesy of Licensemusic.com ApS
By arrangement with Ace Music Services, LLC
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
God only knows, this is a must see film
14 July 2015 | by bob-the-movie-manSee all my reviews

Personal genius has been brilliantly portrayed in film before: "A Beautiful Mind" for maths; "Amadeus" for classical music; and more recently "A Theory of Everything" for cosmology. Behind such genius is often a degree of dysfunction, if not borderline madness.

Here with "Love and Mercy" we get an insight into the creative churning of Wilson's tortured mind. But it is very much a time-banded view, focused on two key periods of his life: 1966, with Paul Dano ("12 Years a Slave"; "Looper") playing Wilson, and the 1990's where Wilson – severely drug-damaged, mentally ill and now played by John Cusack - is being taken for a ride by an unscrupulous and dangerous psychiatrist, Dr Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). Playing a key role in his recovery is car saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) who Wilson desperately latches onto as a drowning man might grab a life-vest.

Whilst the film could be described as a game of two halves, this is not how it is played out. We jump between both eras without warning, which works extremely well in maintaining the interest in the two parallel stories.

In biopic terms, the 60's segments are probably the more gripping, providing a riveting insight into the production techniques of the iconic "Pet Sounds" album, frequently cited as one of the most innovative and creative albums ever released. The film also features superbly recreated 'old footage' (cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman) showing Beach Boy TV slots and video productions. Wilson's genius is neatly reflected through the admiration of the session musicians: they'd "played with them all" – Sinatra, Presley, Sam Cooke, etc – but Wilson was something else entirely.

Paul Dano is just superb as the troubled youngster, physically and mentally abused by his father (an excellent Bill Camp) and exhibiting mental instability even before the dangers of LSD become evident. His slide into near insanity is brilliantly reflected in an audio soundscape that merges snatched Beach Boy fragments and natural sounds into a cacophony. If Edward Tize and his sound department doesn't get nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Mixing there is no justice in the world.

In the 90's segments, Cusack delivers his best performance in years as the older Wilson. And after being rude about Elizabeth Banks' directing skills for "Pitch Perfect 2", I feel I have to express my admiration for her portrayal of perplexed astonishment as Melinda, a woman with a mission. Both extremely subtle and utterly enjoyable performances.

In contrast, the excellent Giamatti seems rather over the top as the scheming Landy, although internet articles suggest that it is a scarily accurate portrayal of the degree of control he exerted.

Directed by Bill Pohlad (someone normally found in the production office), it's difficult to fault such a lovingly crafted film. The pre-credits reference to a 'building scream' (I assume relating to the 'goose-bumpy' bit of "Good Vibrations") is never resolved. And (as I rather missed it in the film) the motives for Landy's extreme actions are a bit obscure (in reality, the Wilson family later discovered he was named as a 70% beneficiary in Wilson's will). However, this film, which deserved a broader and better-publicised release, stands as a superb tribute to an iconic musician and comes with a "highly recommended" from me.

(If you enjoyed this review, please see the illustrated version at bob-the-movie-man.com and enter your email address to receive future reviews. Thanks).


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