"Love & Mercy:" Not Just Another Beach Boys' Movie



            Love & Mercy is a perfect symphony of heartbreak and compassion. From the moment the opening credits start, you are taken on a wave of emotion that show a glimpse into the classic rock vocal group, The Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson and his struggle with mental illness.

The movie shows how throughout Wilson’s career he struggled with schizophrenia and anxiety, which led to drugs and obesity.  Love & Mercy starts out by showing Wilson's abusive childhood and how his father, Carl Wilson, had a dominant role in his life. Carl Wilson is shown beating his son’s head to the point where Brian is mostly deaf in one ear. As Brian Wilson gets older, not only his father controlling him but also several of the group members and later his psychologist, Eugene Landy. It really tugs at your heart seeing such a talented person being controlled.  The movie does a great job of helping others understand what it was like to be in his head, which could sometimes be thought of as crazy and hectic.

The movie shows how several of Beach Boys' songs were created because of all the “crazy” stuff going on in Wilson's sometimes drug-induced head.  Some of the group's greatest hits including “God only Knows” and “Good Vibrations” wouldn’t have been possible without the mastermind named Brain Wilson. Many, including myself, would call him a music sensation and the voice of The Beach Boys.

Each actor portrayed their character to near perfection. Paul Dano, who played a younger Brian Wilson, actually sang some of the songs. John Cusack portrayed the older Wilson during the time when he was under the legal guardianship of Landy.  Cusack acted out Wilson's everyday struggles, down to his small hand gestures. You could see the fear in Wilson's eyes because of Cusack. Elizabeth Banks also did an excellent job as Melinda Ledbetter, a character who becomes a love interest and essential to Wilson later in life and challenging Landy's control over his life.

      Love and Mercy may take you on  a wave of emotions, but it’s truly worth your time (and money.)