As the movie begins, soft murmurs and whispers echo, evoking a sense of mystery and doubt. These voices do not come from the audience, but directly from the mind of Brian Wilson, the lead singer-songwriter of the famed Beach Boys, a popular rock band of the 60's.
Love & Mercy follows the evolution of Brian and his difficulties living with paranoid schizophrenia. His felicitous days as a celebrity are a mere cover-up for his true state of living: hostility from his father, involvement with substance abuse, constant pressure to deliver best-selling records, and deception by a supposed friend. Through Wilson's difficulties, a car saleswoman, Melinda Ledbetter, is able to show Brian the world for what it truly is and help him escape from his own mind.
Weaved throughout the story are loud and arbitrary noises, which shock the rather unsuspecting audience. Sounding as though a thousand people were speaking at once, it is a transformative experience: one that allows everyone to understand how schizophrenia corrupts its victims.
Love & Mercy may provide insight into what Brian Wilson was thinking, feeling, and expressing at every moment in his career, but it also revolutionizes the way you listen to the Beach Boys. For the first time, you can truly hear the music. Their happy-go-lucky summertime tunes are inundated with sad undertones and this is finally made apparent to its listeners.
The ending to the movie was not the happy "Cinderella" moment we were all hoping for, but it was realistic, which I believe was the goal of the writers. With brilliant performances from Paul Dano, John Cusack, and Elizabeth Banks, we realize: we don't always get what we want or what we need, but sometimes, just sometimes, we get something close.