I think I can safely say anyone my age who grew up somewhere in North America has heard of the Beach Boys and shook their heads over reports about the infamous sandbox in Brian Wilson’s living room. What I didn’t know until I saw the movie bio pic, and did a few internet searches was he had a grand piano in there with him too. It was so he could feel the sand between his toes as he played and composed music. Which after some contemplation, doesn’t seem so crazy after all since the songwriter liked to be at the beach and near the ocean.
Love and Mercy really punched me in the solar plexus – and not only because of my own battles with the blues. But also because Bill Pohlad (director) lovingly crafted and beautifully delivered a three dimensional map in technicolor, if you will, of one person’s journey of losing his way and then finding his way back. From micro to macro; individual to universal; intimate to impersonal, Bill Pohlad can tell a story honestly, no holding back.
There are several things I really liked about Love & Mercy. The first thing that drew me in was the film’s structure. It was divided into Brian Past (Paul Dano) and Brian Future (John Cusack). Paul Dano played Brian Wilson in the 60s, at the height of the musician’s creativity, while John Cusack is Brian Wilson 20 years later, struggling with mental health issues before arriving at some kind of resolution.
The second aspect of this film I enjoyed so much was the four main characters: the 60s Brian (Dano), the 80s Brian (Cusack), Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), Wilson’s 80s girlfriend who eventually becomes his wife and Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), Wilson’s (shady) 80s therapist. It would have been so easy for any one of these actors to go “over the top,” but each of the four performances was perfectly shaded, balanced, and believable.
The way that hope, love, redemption and grace are depicted is the third element of Love & Mercy I really liked. I’m still at that place in my life where I need to be assured that it’s never too late to change, to heal, to start again.