Love & Mercy Review
The world of music has plenty examples from the classical Beethoven to the rocker Elvis Presley to the modern day Miley Cyrus from suffering from mental disorders while trying to contribute their works of art. People have asked if their work has been affected by their insanity or if their work is their insanity. It’s tough to decipher as all have proven to produce tracks that people seem to enjoy and continue to buy, without understanding how much work and talent it takes to be great. What’s even more unfair is that if the music is a major hit, then it’s hard for them to climb out of their illness.
It’s kind of a sad look on how the music industry works, but it is what it is. It doesn’t help that drugs have played a big part in the change of musical tastes. Just look at the sixties when guys like the Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones were experimenting with heroin and LSD to find a different creative spark. When Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the latest craze, people are going to want more of the same thing. In the case of the Beach Boys, Love & Mercy shows the darker side on an artist trying to create a masterpiece while falling into insanity and trying to get out.
In the late sixties, lead singer of the Beach Boys Brian Wilson (played by Paul Dano) retires from concert performing to spend more time in the studio to create an album that takes more of a artistic risk like the Beatles did. The problem is that the majority of the band would rather create more of their bubblegum tunes that their famous for, guaranteeing them more money. Brian proceeds with the Pet Sounds and Smile albums where he starts to dwell into LSD where voices start to debut in his mind.
While exploring the beginning of the illness, Love & Mercy occasionally cuts forward to the late 1980’s where an older Brian Wilson (played by John Cusack) is a broken version of himself who is managed and under the guardianship of his therapist, Eugene Landy (played by Paul Giamatti). Brian meets with a Cadillac saleswoman Melinda (played by Elizabeth Banks) who loves Brian’s look at the world, but hates the way Landy seems to have total control over the singers life and the medication that’s being taken.
Love & Mercy could have easily been a typical rise and fall story that countless music bio movies have been before. Luckily, what’s here instead is a artistically amazing look at one man’s genus being taken away by an illness. Some might say that A Beautiful Mind already did this story, but not quite in this fashion. Now there’s a doctor that’s in control and not to mention that to be a genius in music is different then in mathematics.
Both Paul Dano and John Cusack are just amazing playing the duel ages of Brian Wilson. I’m glad they didn’t try to use only one star and make then younger or older.
Love & Mercy also happens to be an interesting legal story about the malpractice of doctors. Without spoiling anything, we find out that Brian Wilson’s career could have gotten an earlier restart had it not been a bad diagnosis.
With all this going on, I will say that music still plays an essential role. One of the best scenes shows Brian working with the studio and a full orchestra trying to create Pet Sounds, showing a young genius in his happier times before his sickness. Much of that abstract sound from the Beach Boys fills in as the score of the movie and I would have not wanted any other way.
I’ll give this five good vibrations out of five. Love & Mercy is already one of the best movies of 2015 and may be a potential candidate for the awards season. This is a movie that picks up good vibrations all over the place and places each one that makes this Beach Boy story into a beautiful symphony.