'Love and Mercy' biopic pulls at the heart strings

By Monika Davis

A heavy and emotional film, Love and Mercy portrays the mental illness that The Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson struggled with during his life and delves into the pain that he pushed through to make albums.

A popular rock band in the 1960s, The Beach Boys constantly struggled to have an equal presence with the British band, The Beatles. The pressure by family members and the record label to keep creating hit songs was just too much for Wilson.

The ever-present cheerfulness of The Beach Boys is perpetually ruined by this movie. Mental illness is artfully presented in this movie, but is such a large part of the film that it leaves viewers checking their watches. You want to know if the end is near and if a happy ending is waiting.

The movie is extremely raw and well-put together. Some details about the lives of the band members are left out which causes some mild confusion. Without knowledge of the individual members of The Beach Boys, following the relationships between certain band members can be a challenge.

The musical genius and fervor that encompasses Brian Wilson is excellently portrayed by actor, Paul Dano. The young and talented Dano learned  to sing like Wilson and covered tracks throughout the film, which created a more authentic recreation of events and interactions between the band.

Parts of the movie that explained Wilson’s process of creating a song were interesting, such as his use of animal sounds. Actors Elizabeth Banks and John Cusack had a good chemistry and added an interesting aspect to the film.

The movie jumps from Wilson's late teen years when he first began to struggle with his mental health to his 40s when he was under the misguided care of psychologist Eugene Landy. The flashbacks, which included inanimate voices and his experimentation with drugs, were the highlight of the film and enhanced the documentation of Wilson’s life.

A good, sad, and thought-provoking film, Love and Mercy handles controversy and pain in Wilson’s life faultlessly. The actors’ chemistry and the tumultuous grievances of Wilson’s life are perfectly mixed to create the perfect melody for a great movie.