Saturday, July 4, 2015

Love and Mercy

Director: Bill Pohlad

Starring: Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, John Cusack, Bill Camp, Elizabeth Banks, Diana Maria Riva

A bio pic of the troubled life of Brian Wilson (Beachboys). The movie cuts back and forth between two very specific periods of Wilson’s life, Wilson’s songwriting heyday of the mid-1960s (Paul Dano) and his time under the control of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) in the mid-1980s (John Cusack). The young Brian has battled with his physically and mentally abusive record producer, father (Bill Camp) to produce some of the best music of the time. Battling substance and alcohol abuse and estranged from the Beachboys he falls under the influence of his psychiatric therapist Dr. Eugene Landy. Kept in a drug filled fugue and misdiagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, Wilson barely functions not realizing Landy is manipulating his affairs. By chance Wilson meets Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) when buying a car and the two develop a close relationship which is tentative at first but grows as she begins to realize the danger the songwriter is in from the Svengali like Landy. Eventually Ledbetter, aided by Brian’s housekeeper, Gloria Ramos (Diana Maria Riva), persuades Carl Wilson to intervene by presenting evidence of Landy’s undue influence. The movie is considered a reasonably accurate rendition of the singer songwriter’s troubled life and whilst not a musical fest it does give key insights to composer brain Wilson. The recording studio scenes with the Wrecking Crew are especially good as they depict the meticulous, inventive brilliance of Wilson at work. Superb casting and Paul Dano gives a fabulous performance as the younger Brian. Look out for the real Brian Wilson singing the title song with the credits.

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