Love-Mercy-bEACH-BOYSI found this movie to be a puzzle. Pieces of Brian Wilson’s life are flying back and forth, in a frantic sequence of events. Lapidary dialogue scenes and expanded musical parts alternate abruptly. And so it was Brian’s phrenetic existence till then, as the movie reveals. Despite his musical brilliance, he is torn apart by the abuse of his father, the disapproval of his dandy colleague Mike Love and his own obsessions and fears. Amazingly, Brian Wilson has been deaf in one ear since he was a small child, resulting from his father’s violent outbursts. But that didn’t diminish his creativity and musical genius. When he meets Melinda Ledbetter in the ‘80s, he hopes love will save him.

Love-Mercy-SCENE I enjoyed all the ‘60s scenes, recreating the first episodes of stardom of the Beach Boys. The famous first videos of the band (wearing the emblematic striped shirts, carrying the iconic surf board on the beach, recording in the studio – all around that one microphone, singing live on TV with the energetic go-go dancers behind) were perfectly reproduced by the talented young actors. Paul Dano doesn’t look exactly like the teen Brian, but he had obviously studied every gesture and mimics to compensate the appearance. On the other hand, Jake Abel and Graham Rogers did impressive roles by looking and acting like Mike Love and Al Jardine.

Secondly, I loved the scenes revealing the creative process. Sounds of all kinds merge into Brian’s mind creating masterpieces: “God Only Knows” (called by Paul McCartney “the greatest song ever written”), “Good Vibrations” (“the pocket symphony”) or “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. The movie also depicts the extravaganza of the successful ‘60s bands: Brian’s piano is situated in a sand box, in the middle of the living room, where he plays barefoot or the middle room gloomy tent intended for smoking pot.

It seems that the name of the movie is inspired by a song. “Love and Mercy” was written by Brian Wilson as the opening track to his 1988 debut solo album “Brian Wilson”. Director Bill Pohlad, known as producer of “12 Years a Slave”, “Into the Wild” and “Brokeback Mountain”, did a great job recreating the ‘60s and ‘80s atmosphere and Brian’s delirious state before meeting Melida.

I could hardly wait to see this movie and I’m glad I did, as The Beach Boys are one of my favourites. I was fortunate to attend their 2012 Milano concert and it was the best concert ever!

Interesting facts (IMDB):

  • Dano and Cusack did not interact with each other during filming. This was encouraged by Pohlad, who didn’t want the actors to simply perform an impression of Wilson, but to create their own organic understanding of his character.
  • Brian tells Melinda when they are sitting in the Cadillac in the showroom that his brother died two years earlier. Dennis drowned in December 1983. That would make the scene set in 1985 or early 1986. The song playing in the background is “Songbird” by Kenny G, which was not released until 1987.

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