www.whyville.net Jun 14, 2015 Weekly Issue

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Movie Review: Love & Mercy

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Recently, I went to the theaters and got to see the movie I've been waiting to see, Love & Mercy. Love & Mercy is a biographical film (biopic) about Brian Wilson, the lead singer of the popular 1960's surf rock group The Beach Boys. However, instead of getting into the nitty-gritty of his entire life, Love & Mercy focuses mainly on the gradual decline of his mental health starting in the early 1960's and his life following the false diagnosis with schizophrenia by Dr. Eugene Landy in the 1980's.

Love & Mercy was released on June 5th, 2015 and stars John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti. It was directed by Bill Pohlad. The movie is rated PG-13 for drug use, occasional violence, language, and "thematic elements".

One thing I really enjoyed about this movie is how you basically got two stories in one (Wikipedia describes it as a "parallel narrative"). The movie frequently would go back and forth between scenes with "Past Brian" (Brian Wilson in the early to mid 60's, played by Paul Dano) and "Future Brian" (Brian Wilson in the 80's, played by John Cusack).

The "past" half of the movie begins with Brian admitting to his brothers that he is hearing "voices" in his head, and later we watch a dramatic scene where Brian is suffering from a major panic attack on an airplane, which ultimately leads to Brian deciding that he should cease touring. Slowly but surely we watch the gradual decay of Brian's mental health, especially as he is writing and recording the famous Beach Boys album, Pet Sounds. The movie also reflects on Brian's dark childhood (as well as his brothers', who are also in the band). Historical film of recording sessions and music videos during the 1960's were reenacted which I thought was really cool.

Flashing forward to the "future" parts of the movie, the first scene shows an older Brian Wilson purchasing a new car. A car saleswoman, Melinda Ledbetter, comes over to help him purchase a new car and they have an instant connection. The pair's relationship eventually grows to a romantic one. However, during this time Brian is under heavy manipulation of his doctor, Eugene Landy, who is forcing Brian to take countless medications. Melinda eventually realizes this and is determined to get rid of Eugene so Brian can get his life back.

Overall, I thought this movie was very interesting and simply brilliant. The movie showed a side to Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys that I had never known about since I was only a casual fan of them, but watching this movie has made me appreciate the true genius behind their music. The ending is what really got to me and I admit, I did shed a few tears. At times the movie is a little bit confusing, especially at the parts where there were interpretations of the "voices" in Brian's head but other than that I found the plot easy to follow. Even Brian Wilson himself praised the movie and described it as "very factual", according to Wikipedia. I personally preferred Paul Dano's acting and version of Brian Wilson over John Cusack's but it was still a great movie.

I would give this movie ten stars, but I think it's partially because the movie was more interesting to me as I am a Beach Boys fan. I highly recommend you see it even if you aren't really interested in the music; even my sister, who was a Beach Boy's "hater" with a passion, admitted that she likes them a lot more after seeing the genius behind the lyrics and harmonies in their songs. However, I do advise that if you go to see it that you get there early. Here in the Bay Area, it was a very popular movie and the first time we tried to see it the tickets had sold out. If you do choose to see it, I hope you enjoy it!

Sources: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903657/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_%26_Mercy_(film)

Author's Note: This is my first time writing a movie review, so criticism for how I can improve in the struture and wording would be greatly appreciated in the BBS. Thanks


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