Love and Mercy (2014)

Filed under: — Helen on August 30th, 2017 11:08:53 am

Love and Mercy is a biographical film about ‘The Beach Boys’ musician Brian Wilson. The film moves back and forth between two different periods in Brian’s life to portray the rise and fall of this musical talent. The viewer is shown Brian in the 1960s at the peak of his creative talent when ‘Pet Sounds’ is produced, and then Brian in the 1980s following a mental breakdown and under the control and legal guardianship of therapist Dr Eugene Landy.

 To emphasise the two different time periods, two different actors are used to play the same character. Paul Dano plays the young creative Brian, and John Cusack plays the older more obviously fragile Brian. The fact the actors do not look alike works to emphasise how much Brian has altered in the preceding years. Following the breakdown of his marriage and the deterioration of his mental health, he begins to date Melinda Leadbetter (Elizabeth Banks) who watches with increasing alarm the treatment Brain receives from Dr Landy and is appalled by the abusive relationship.

The studio scenes are fascinating to watch as we see Brian’s musical creativity at work as he experiments with sounds for his new album but it also reveals the beginning of a mental breakdown as he experiments with drugs and comes under pressure from his Father and band member Mike Love to go back to the sounds that have been successful in the past.

The cast are all excellent. Paul Dano has the boyish faced charm of Brian Wilson in his younger days, and Cusack is exceptional as the fragile older Brian, displaying Brian’s fragility whilst also displaying a charming quirky side that helps understand why the beautiful Melinda falls for him in spite of the difficult circumstances surrounding him. Elizabeth Banks is brilliant in the role of Melinda. Her disdain for Dr Landy is clear but it is shown through her body language and her silences as she tries not to make her disgust apparent. Paul Giamatta is quite terrifying as the incredibly controlling Dr Landy and successfully portrays him as a man who perhaps meant well in the past, but has since let power go to his head and is reliant on Brian remaining unwell for his own benefits.

The rise and fall of this musical talent is beautifully portrayed in Love and Mercy. It is a sweet film that  contains some shocking truths as the boy faced Wilson escapes the abusive figure of his father only to find himself in the control of another abusive figure in Dr Landy.

Dir: Bill Pohlad

Cast: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks , Paul Giamatti

rating: 7

author picture Helen (94 posts)
I'm a 32 year old from Leeds in England. I watch a lot of films and like writing about them.

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