When you think of the iconic band "The Beach Boys" you invariably think of sunshine, beach, surfacing, good times….. "Good Vibrations" Well the new movie "Love and Mercy" staring John Cusack, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks and Paul Dano (as the young Brian Wilson) is quick the opposite.
While showing the utter musical genius of Brian Wilson, the film focuses on his mental illness issues that start early on and journey right thru middle age. Besides an abusive Father, sort of non supportive brothers and cousins, Wilson ends up being heavily medicated, monitored and controlled by a whack job therapist/legal guardian (never really explained) played really well by Paul Giamatti. The latters role is very reminiscent of the "controlling" role played by Steve Carell (Academy Award Nominee) in Foxcatcher/2014…a sick, scary, weird, faux father figure with ulterior motives.
Elizabeth Banks plays Cusack's love interest who is a very strong, independent and successful woman who clearly sees the real Brian Wilson (and inner horror he's going thru). I must admit I was moreso distracted by how impeccably dressed she was in many different scenes. Not something I normally notice but boy did she visually steal every scene.
This movie is very well done just not fun, summery, upbeat. Will not do well in the box office as it plays to themes that are antithetical to themes one thinks of the Beach Boys. Would be a hard film to recommend to friends.