By Alexandra Harris
The movie begins with a young Brian Wilson, singer/song writer for the Beach Boys, talking to himself in a dimly lit room. The darkness and confusion is consistent throughout the movie when looking at Wilson’s younger self, but changes when Melinda Ledbetter enters his life.
The movie jumps back and forth between young Wilson and older Wilson as if the two times are fighting with each other over Wilson’s mind. The contrast between young Brian Wilson, played by Paul Dano, and older Brian Wilson, played by John Cusack, shows the struggle Wilson went through for most of his life.
Starting at a young age with his abusive father, Wilson always wanted to impress others with his own ideas and music. His father tore him down and wanted him to play a certain way which broke him down emotionally throughout the years. The relationship with his father is shown mostly through short clips, like puzzle pieces the viewer has to put together. The need to impress his father and to not be alone continued into adulthood.
The movie is well written and showcases the musical talents of Wilson throughout by showing him in the studio making music. The unique sounds in the studio showed the complexity of Wilson’s mind. At one point he even brought dogs into the studio and had them bark. Along with his father, the rest of the Beach Boys were not impressed by the new found sounds Wilson was conjuring up in his head.
Wilson later, after dealing with drug addiction, was diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia.
Everyone in Wilson’s life was turning his ideas down, but not Melinda Ledbetter, played by Elizabeth Banks. After meeting Ledbetter, Wilson’s love interest, he had trouble being without her. He even risked being hit by her car to get her attention. The romance in the movie gives it the light touch it needs to keep it from being too dark. The relationship the two have is charming, heartfelt, and gets Wilson out from under the control of Dr. Eugene Landy, his psychologist.