Love & Mercy (John Cusack, Paul Dano) Movie Review

Love and Mercy, which takes its name from the first track on Brian Wilson’s first solo album in 1988, is a biopic on Brian Wilson, the musical genius behind many of the Beach Boys greatest and most critically acclaimed hits. It’s a tale told in two parts, one being the days of the late 1960s in which Wilson, here played by Paul Dano, would quite live touring to spend his days in the studio to make the ambitious albums Pet Sounds and the defunct Smile almost single-handedly, and the other taking place in the 1980s, when Wilson, played in these scenes by John Cusack, would be kept under the tight scrutiny of Dr. Eugene Landy, who had been treating the reclusive and troubled artist for paranoid schizophrenia. Wilson’s most creative period was also his most troubled, as his mental illness allowed him to draw out styles and sounds unheard of in any recording to date, but also affected his personal life to the point of disaster. His later years were characterized by his subservience to his doctor, who controlled every aspect of his life, and Wilson’s budding romance with a Los Angeles car salesperson named Melinda Ledbetter, who thinks he is being manipulated and overmedicated.