Love & Mercy – Short Synopsis

In Cinemas June 25th

4 out of 5 Stars

brian wilson 

We all know the music, but few know the true story of musical genius, Brian Wilson and his struggles with brilliance and balance.  LOVE & MERCY paints an unconventional portrait of the artist by interweaving seminal moments from his youth and later life, as it explores how Brian came to be who he is today.

The role of Brian Wilson is masterfully shared between Paul Dano (12years a slave, Little Miss Sunshine) as the younger, 1960’s Brian; and John Cusack (Maps to the Stars, High Fidelity) is Wilson in the 1980’s.  The film explores the many challenges Brian has faced, both from his point of view in his younger years; and from the perspective of his now wife Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) when she meets Brian in his 40’s and under questionable medical care of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti).

The Beach Boys were already experiencing chart topping success with Surfin Safari, I Get around, Help me Rhonda, California Girls and Good Vibrations when Brian found himself driven to move in a new musical direction.  Whilst this would ultimately lead to the creation of what is widely ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time – Pet Sounds- and songs like Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B and God Only Knows; it also lead to the band breaking up and Brian breaking down.

Duffy’s Review

I want to start this review by saying you don’t need to be a fan of The Beach Boys or know any of their hits (although you must be living in some strange secluded world if you have never heard Good Vibrations).  This is a story about a genius composer and musician in the 60’s, who goes through some harrowing times, both in the real world and inside his head.

The Good Vibrations scene is stand out and changed my mind completely. I thought I knew  these cheesy 60’s boy band members, The Beach Boys; Surfy pop songs played at Margaritaville or a beachside wedding after a long innings at the bar. These guys were more than that,aAfter the movie I listened to Good Vibrations again and the levels of complex sounds and beats are brilliant and mesmerising; infact, their hits are playing right now on my Spottify as I type this review. I am a convert.

Paul Dano is perfect as the young Brian Wilson, there are some scenes where you can feel the anxiety welling up in his face; it not only hit a raw nerve, but conveyed a strong message of how debilitating and frightening mental health issues can be to the person experiencing them.


The 1960’s flashbacks and scenes are mostly shot in a wobbly, hand held video camera style.  It gives the feel of a documentary and of the viewer ‘looking in’, but it can be a little distracting at times.  John Cusack has played the older 1980’s Brian respectfully with careful attention although some scenes are a little tough to watch and you leave the movie thinking  a lot about Mr Wilson, the life he lead, the turmoil in head and what he had to go through to get to where he is today.

If you liked A Beautiful Mind and The Theory Of Everything you will thoroughly enjoy LOVE & MERCY.  A film that shines a mirror in the face of a mental breakdown and the sheer scale of musical genius Brian Wilson has as a composer.

4 our of 5 stars from me – Make the time to go and see it

In Cinemas June 25th

Running Time 120 minutes