Love and Mercy – Review

Bill Pohlad is no newbie in the film industry. He has been involved as a producer /executive producer for successful films which received wide acclaim and raving reviews. Films such as Brokeback Mountain, The Runaways, The Tree of Life, the award winning film 12 Years A Slave, have Bill Pohland’s footprint firmly stamped as a producer and executive producer. Love and Mercy is perhaps one of his most notable works as he is both director and producer.

Love and Mercy is a biopic about the story of Brian Wilson, a rock artist, singer and songwriter. Brian is known as being part of The Beach Boys, a rock band formed in the 60’s. The Beach Boys are known as being one of the most iconic rock bands in America. The film name was inspired by Wilson’s 1988 album with a track of the same name.

Official trailer :

Pohlad takes us through the biopic in two different depictions of Brian: One as a young’un in the 60’s and one as a middle aged man in the 80’s. The former is portrayed by Paul Dano, who is quite an established actor noted for many film, television and theatrical appearances, while the latter is portrayed by John Cusack who has also been active in the film industry for more than two decades.

The 60’s portrayal of Brian conjures up words such as ‘creative- expressionism’ ‘abused’ ‘wreckless’ ‘talented’ and many others that paint quite a picture about a younger Brian as depicted by Pohlad in the film. Younger Brian had a strained relationship with his father, with violence and bullying marring their relationship. The recording sessions by The Beach Boys have one word written all over them: passion. The atmosphere at the recording sessions is electrifying and one that would inspire people to start bands.

Brian’s life as part of The Beach Boys is one that would be said to have had quite a profound effect on him. We note how Pohlad portrays him as creative and inspired by music and how this is displayed in the movie. Heck, the competitive spirit cannot be toned down nor understated. A scene that emphasizes this is when the band members hear a new song by The Beatles and are intent on not being beaten. Such is the love and passion depicted about Brian’s love for music.

The 80’s Brian is seen to be quite conflicted in a myriad of issues, but perhaps the two most profound ‘events’ in his life are his relationships, one with his second wife, perfectly executed by the enigmatic Elizabeth Banks (Melinda Ledbetter in film) and the other with his therapist Dr Eugene Landy (intensely depicted by Paul Giamatti).

We are taken through the complex relationship dynamics he has with his therapist who at some point is seen telling Melinda that Brian is a very sick man. Brian and Melinda’s relationship is certainly portrayed with a freshness and rawness hardly seen in many movies.
If you are looking for something exciting, this is a must watch most definitely!