What is it about genius talent that leads to mental instability or is it the other way around? Does mental instability lead to genius talent? Love and Mercy explores this as a biopic of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. I give this movie a B.
This movie won’t appeal to everyone. There were only eight of us watching the movie and all of us were of a certain age. In fact, one woman asked her husband if she remembered the event on the screen…they had lived it. Certainly, Love and Mercy is a movie for fans of the Beach Boys and their music. Although there isn’t enough of the music in the movie (according to my husband), it does give a wonderful glimpse of Brian’s genius with creating new sounds, songs and lyrics.
I found this movie very disturbing. It hurt to watch it. John Cusack does an amazing job as the mature Wilson under the care of Dr. Eugene Landy. Cusack will get some Oscar mentions for his work. His hands twitch and the anxiety was palpable during his performance.
Paul Dano as the younger Wilson was just as memorable. His slippage into mental instability was difficult to watch, but it was the performance of Paul Giamatti as Dr. Landy that made my skin crawl. I felt like I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds with him as a serial killer gone amuck.
Elizabeth Banks rounds out the cast as the woman who won’t let Wilson slip away. Banks is everywhere these days from real estate commercials to Pitch Perfect 2, but as Melinda Ledbetter, Wilson’s savior, there’s no comedy in her performance. I did love the 80’s clothes and hairstyles! In fact, some of them I owned.
While Love and Mercy won’t beat out any rampaging dinosaurs, it’s a movie that is well directed, has an amazing cast, and is sure to garner many wonderful reviews. Yet, at places it is too disturbing to watch and will have you leaving depressed. While Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys wrote and sang songs about fun in the summer sun, their lives were anything but a party.
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