Sunday, May 17, 2015

The movie Love and Mercy

I recently had the great opportunity to see the film Love and Mercy at the Dallas International Film Festival, one of a select few festivals of its kind.

Love and Mercy, which stars John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti, is the story of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and I had been anticipating seeing it for months.  I came away with a different outlook on Brian.  I always understood that he had some mental problems that caused him to have panic attacks prior to concerts.  I, and this probably is true for most people, was sad about what happened to him, and certainly his problems did not detract from his overwhelming contribution to the Rock Era.

Paul Dano stars as the early Brian Wilson, and his performance is nothing short of amazing.  I thought I was watching the real Brian!  Academy Award-worthy performance, without question.  Giamatti is fantastic as always as Wilson's doctor.  And the movie casts Brian's current wife, Melinda, in a great light.  The music world owes a lot to her for helping to save Brian.

But after seeing the movie, I was left with nothing but admiration for what he achieved.  I was aware of some of the background information only because I have been in the music business for nearly 40 years, but to reach that success, Brian dealt with voices in his head, an abusive and overbearing father that tried to steamroll the group as its manager, and hit Brian so hard one time that it caused permanent hearing loss in one ear, and a doctor who initially helped him out of depression but then became controlling and manipulative, prescribing far too many pills Ala the doctors for Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.

That Brian emerged from all that intact is a miracle.  While he still has to deal with the voices, he has learned to manage them.  In essence, Wilson has beaten mental problems.  He joined the Beach Boys for their 50th anniversary tour, and is now touring solo.  I must say that after seeing Love and Mercy, I am rooting for him all the way, and seeing him live is a must-do on my bucket list.

Wilson is one of the geniuses of the Rock Era, and one can only have more respect for him after watching the movie.  In one scene, the actor who plays Mike Love says to Brian, "Who do you think you are--Mozart?"

"Actually", I thought, as I watched the film, "pretty close, Mike, he was pretty close."

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