Love & Mercy is the life story of Brian Wilson, lead singer/songwriter of The Beach Boys, one of the biggest bands of our time. In the lead role of Brian Wilson is a duel performance of Paul Dano in his younger years, and John Cusack in Brian’s later years. Co-starring here are Elizabeth Banks as his love Melinda and Paul Giamatti as Dr. Eugene Landy. In the directors chair is Bill Pohlad, who’s last feature was back in 1990.
What a beautiful film. It breaks your heart to see how mentally ill Brian became as his time went on. Even as a young man he heard voices in his head and they really got to him. Paul Dano is one of the most underrated actors working today. This film will give him his due. He is brilliant as Wilson in his early days. You really sympathize with him, no matter how crazy or insane people thought he was, Dano really did great showing how human Brian was. He really did well showing Wilsons more eccentric side. Watching Dano direct the band, and sing with is brothers its truly a sight to behold. This is a career defining performance for Dano and I hope he gets recognized by the time awards season comes around this year because he’s that good here.
John Cusack is just as brilliant as Wilson in his older years. While in his younger days Wilson had his family by his side and went to parties, now he’s a broken man who is alone. Cusack does a great job conveying the feeling of emptiness Brian must’ve felt at this point in his life. All he had was Dr. Landy (Giamatti) who constantly over medicated him and took advantage of him. It was truly devastating. John Cusack is immersed in this role. You find yourself sympathizing with Wilson throughout.
Elizabeth Banks is great as Melinda, Brian’s love interest. Once they meet you can tell Melinda is in awe of Brian. She becomes very fascinated with him, she knows there’s something off about how he is being handled but she stays with him through thick and thin. You really buy their love for each other. Wilson finally had someone to love and made life worth living, Melinda just truly wanted the best for Brian.
Paul Giamatti plays the caretaker of Brian Dr. Eugene Landy. Giamatti really gets under your skin in this film. You just can’t believe how badly he treats Brian. It’s horrible that he got away with it for so long. Brian was pretty much there physically, but mentally he just wasn’t there at all, you could see it in his eyes. Giamatti is chilling throughout. He’s one of the best parts of the movie.
Bill Pohlad directed this film beautifully. There are many shots that pan across the studio while Brian directs the band. It really helped you see how much work Brian had to do to make everything perfect. The opening sequence is just breathtaking, you see the Beach Boys performing and rehearsing, it really shows how much work they all put in. He does a great job setting this very eery tone while trying to show you how bright and vibrant Brian was on the inside. He was so messed up, but Brian if nothing else was always human, which is a testament to the performances Pohlad got out of Dano and Cusack.
This is one of the best of the year. It will break your heart, you’ll find yourself sympathizing with Wilson throughout. It gives you a very in depth look into Wilsons life in a non linear way.