Review: Love and Mercy

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This is what we do know…Brian Wilson, his brothers, Dennis, Carl and cousin Mike Love revolutionized the 60’s rock scene with their distinct vocal harmonies and lyrics as The Beach Boys selling in excess of 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time.  Brian Wilson was the musical genius that made the Beach Boys “California Sound” unique.

What we don’t know is that Wilson’s musical genius made him easy prey for those up to no good.  Enter Eugene Landy.  Landy diagnosed Wilson as being a paranoid schizophrenic and began months of verbal and mental abuse.  Using his unorthodox 24-hour therapy, Landy was successful in limiting Wilson’s drug abuse, improving his physical appearance and overall health.   However, in the process, Landy was accused of brainwashing, drugging and isolating Wilson, then benefiting from an improper business relationship with him. These charges ultimately cost Landy his professional license and reputation earning him the brand of “Doctor Feelgood” in the press.

Brian Wilson with Dr. Eugene Landy outside rehearsal for Rock Awards at The Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, CA 1977; Various Locations; Mark Sullivan 70's Rock Archive; Hollywood; CA.   (Photo by Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images)
Brian Wilson with Dr. Eugene Landy outside rehearsal for Rock Awards at The Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, CA 1977; Various Locations; Mark Sullivan 70’s Rock Archive; Hollywood; CA. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images)
Love and Mercy chronicles Wilson’s relationship with his brothers, Dad, Landy and reveals how his current wife, the former Melinda Ledbetter exposed Landy and ultimately saved Brian Wilson from becoming another
rock ‘n’roll

drug statistic.

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Paul Dano (Brian Past)  and John Cusack (Brian Future) convey the mental torture of Brian Wilson with so much conviction that you forget they are acting. Elizabeth Banks is having a fantastic year.  Having directed “Pitch Pefect 2”, her portrayal of Melinda Ledbetter is one infused with warmth and compassion, but at the same time revealing that Melinda is a tough cookie and not easily walked on or over.  She would do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, regardless of the consequences.

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However, it is Paul Giamatti (Eugene Landy) that turns in a performance laced with so much venom and abuse that the audience actually breaks into applause when his character gets what he so richly deserves…nothing.

Love and Mercy is one of the most compelling, well-rounded biopics I have screened in quite some time proving that mercy on someone you have unconditional love for can save their life and yours.  The film has been hitting the film festival circuit hard this year and was set into limited theatrical release on June 5th.

Check it out in a city near you!!!  In the meantime…here’s a featurette on LOVE AND MERCY.

and the trailer…

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