Love & Mercy : A Film Review

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Dir. Bill Pohlad USA 2014 2hr 1min. Cert.12a.
Cast. John Cusak, Paul Dano, Paul Gametti,
Script. Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner.
Home is where the Love is
The word is out that The Beach Boys sang the summer for us and ever since have recall days without a cloud, without a moments unhappiness, of surf, sand and sea. This reality of course was a false perception.
Nothing was exposed to the theatre of sound and blue and white stripes of The Beach Boys as much as the fulfillment of the wishing it was fun, fun, fun, sun, sun, sun, more than ourselves the musician fan than themselves and chief among them Brian Wilson.
‘The Worlds most important man of the twentieth century – Woodrow Wilson, according to Scott Berg, Pulitzer Prize winner. Maybe it was for culture, Brian Wilson. It cannot be true though as hype and reality are so inalienable conceptual tangible absolutes as to render us to pulp as fiction.

We need the hype of something in popular media to latch onto as escapism is part of the deal. Woodrow Wilson, origins near Strabane. Conned his country into thinking he was well, a President in full capacity of control, when he was abroad for six months and out of the US! The hype of his life was carried by Newspaper and the Washington Briefing which he invented.
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Modern Cinema
This was The Beach Boys new world he had created out of the post war years. The USA needed much in the way of family friendly tones of drama and self identity it gave us Doris Day, Dick Van Dyke, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, as well as The Supremes, The Drifters, The Beatles and poor old Elvis tanned, tanked and Tahiti bound out of a war uniform he had a duty to render the Male American in apart from the alternative – often naval gazing reflection on war – and unceremonious cowboys such as John Wayne preceding Shane soon to be Butched up and moved in town. Voight incoming.
Modern ‘Sinema
There were the, American Betty Davis Betty Davis Eyes types the curious admixture of vice and crime noir and Hitchcock rendezvous films for the unsquemish. Blood on the blade was an escape tool also employed to this confection of a.nice cosy world.

For some crystallizations of the America ‘all we ever wanted’ appeared in popular culture of a clean and type which those in the centre of the stardom were equally susceptible to.
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Sound booth stores
Traditionally Crooners and Ballad signers told the narrative but the breakaway was and often is assumed by mentioning The Beach Boys.
The cafés next to the record stores with listening booths were hip as cheapster music nowadays churned out as pop.

This year 2015 is becoming in film alone for Music centered films. Whiplash straddled the entry to the year as it became Oscar commodity.
Then advancing were spacious movies of biographical canvas.

That stretch reaches today to Amy, after the Kurt Cobain visual feast. We have Dustin Hoffman to look forward to in The Choir as well as the month of Music Documentaries QFT Belfast is embarking on concerning our more contemporary rendering documentaries. Music of Bjork, Damon Alborn musical based theatre. Even the film Eden on Daft Punk should be well worth seeing. Barely enclosed as Musical or film they again say we are forever to look at music culture against a visual forest of personalities who stood up to entertain us.

Such is this backdrop it is further disseminated as a story of Brian Wilson’s as QFT programme puts it ‘era defining life’ Bill Pohlad runs two parallel tracks as a very unique take on the two voyages undertaken by Brian Wilson. Some one liners are dropped in which are repeatable. Not here. They are about Brian’s essence and wisdom. The veil is lifted on ourselves through such crafting of thought and a huge amount of unheard of musical literacy.

Music he found to be his souls medium of expression. A handful of melodies and away he went. The generous heart of fellowship, of the band found him creating the most fluid and well received pop music imaginable as his counties technicolor open skied haven.

Just over the past weekend fellow Californians The Grateful Dead, play their final concert having amassed a 44 million dollar event. It took place at Soldiers Field Chicago where Jerry Garcia last played June 1995.

They were close to the edge of where Brian Wilson wanted to be as he sought something beyond what they were narrowly fastened into as the Beach Boys. It’s hard to disavow success and the riches.
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The performances within this film are awesomely close to perfect. The division and derision of fellow band members who take to tour without Brian return to find his new book of songs incomprehensible and depressing or close to ailing wailing self indulgent aganst driven worry harnessed in notes and chord complexities even seasoned session musicians had found difficult in constructing.

Paul Dano who added pounds in weight to inhabit the world of Brian Wilson is exceptionally close to any perception we are likely to have of the menacing self-examination which in the opening frames curates the medical condition of hearing other voices in his studio settling the arguments of value on the music he is conceiving. It is an adopted case of proprietorial regions of the brain under challenge from each other. Reason for, as Paul Dano transmits, ‘in peril’ alone as Brian cuts a force, a never seen duality on screen before as insightfully played and told without realism or prurience.
We have seen hothouse voices from the depictions of Elizabeth Taylor, in manic episodes, male versions well covered also, yet here the coil spring nuances of thought are demonstrably resonant.
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John Cusack is cast into the role of ‘future’ Brian the credits have us told.
This is a case of extrordinary implicit schizophrenia when it is assertainable, perhaps due to hindsight it is expectatious or expressed in only small measure, something more akin to psychoneurosis.
The brain is not even now so easily categorissed but we know a great deal more than then.

The future is made possible by using two actors. The eerily accurate narrowing of the brow, slight hesitant recoil, pulling his will inward through expression abstracts the inner feeling so well Cusack deploys it’s constant question mark for us to engage with. John Cusak is achieving little in the way of help in large part through another main player in this format. The John Landy psychiatrist whose power of attorney seems large and is dealt strongly and dismally with acerbic scenes of disagreement and darkness seen in sunlight.
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There is in the construction of Smile, the album Brian assembled while the remainder, Mike Love, Carl Wilson and the other siblings, that is becomes apparent this is no ordinary man and he operates on a split level mind.
Exceptionally honest about his inner senses therefore unable to obliterate, deny, suppress the feelings of hurt found when dealing with the outside world, particularly his father who accounts for the loss of 85% hearing in Brian’s left ear by repeated punching.
The editing by Dino Jonsater match episodes of period unerringly back and forth. The scene where it appears Brian Is having an episodes when making “God Only Knows” one of their masterworks literally routes us the viewer from thinking one thing to seeing another as this finite, glorious tune is brought out. You will be astonished by the sweet and savage use of character here.
Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), the woman who was his saviour is outstandingly portrayed giving a sparkling beautifully nuanced and attractive accurate account as provided through the riches of script deposition and filmic period resonance, fashion and style wise.
She is first encountered in the Cadallaic showroom where a relationship of forces meeting is established without any claims from either. She sells cars, he buys one. One they have an adult and childlike conversation in breaking the rules of attraction through aa heartfelt moment of greeting a friend.

It begins the middle core love story which becomes transitory.
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Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), Doctor Damage. A control freak psychoanalyst whose appreciation of Brian’s condition relies on a fragmentary reponse first initiated from a period of reclusive, very reclusive self withdrawal made by Brian.
Various theories are thrown like projectiles at us. One comes that Brian is consciously aware albeit occasionally, of the regression he goes through at times. His maid and housekeeper keeps the over prescription of Landy a secret and Melinda develops as does Brian a truly bonded relationship.

Not surprisingly this undermines Landy enormously. The effect is to send the film into a multiple of editorial and stimulating scenes of harrowing, joyous action.

Not simultaneous. No the schizo dynamic is over wrought in reality as in Landys mind. So Landys position as Wilson’s personal physician and legal guardian, becomes another fore fronted part of the music dynamic which all along is mesmerizing us. Not least because, here is another master stroke. Atticus Ross blends his own score an Beach Boys work so intensely and ferociously we have a narrative both Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner send director Bill Pohlads head into a tailspin no doubt trying to switch the direction of emotions, the highs and breaking points.

Masterwork
It is a masterwork and in parts where Paul Dano takes off in the studio as a maestro planner of plenitude, we see exchanges of dialogue which are collected and delivered in such environments as the ubiquitous swimming pool.
Homage to a floating baby Nirvana in which separateness is key.
Or the slant across the pool. The water sloping from Paul Danos side and readjusted level when seen from the bands side. Of course some dialogue is superfluous but for those unused to the capers of directors in shoeing in favourite vibes one supplants these.

The conversations, on the terraces of balconies with views it is not reasonable to be expected in a normal world; (the locations of these are breathtakingly beautiful as to be heavenly locations for heady differences and cruel irony) is another master stroke.
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The colourscape is never restful as you can drown in the lush pleasure and production ‘shots’ even of roadside stationary scenes are of the texture and whole belying underbelly of misdirection taken on the road to becoming the great Uniteed States of America. They also have a scene watching at Landys choice no doubt a Moody Blues Concert!
He turns to Melinda seated next to him who has just spoken to Brian and asks something like “What did he just say? What were you saying?” Full of not just a controlling irrigation, yes not irritating, misapplied sickness I read this a reflection of Landy wanting to know what both sought of the song.
‘Nights in white Satin’. The duality and multiplicity of uses for the song being Landys own personality.

Conclusion ##### 5
This ends as many do not as a recovery gone right.
You don’t often get that but the journey was costly.
The mercy bit comes in the song. The film is put together with a lot of Americas discovery of itself after the relase from war and is an unprecedented release of a sectio of popular historical biography. A fictionised true life story made for the adoration of millions of fans.
Melinda Ledbetter carried and carries the torch.
The Wilson family have a history told for their own benefit and sustenance as unforensic as is both proper and practical.
It is a work of depth and extrordinary insightfulness.
It explains the lack of medical explanation of so many cross genetic and societal forms of interaction.
The contusions and left orbital senses damage is but one derivation of the harm and bi-polar state he fluctuates from though no such diagnosis or any diagnosis is rightly put across as the closing sequences gather us for the close.

QFT Belfast Fri 17 July to Thurs 30 July 2015 check the screening times lose to the date as times sometimes shift a little.

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