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Love & Mercy [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
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Behind the fun fun fun of The Beach Boys was the fascinating and genius singer/songwriter Brian Wilson. Love & Mercy presents an unconventional portrait of the iconic Wilson -- portrayed by two actors, Paul Dano in the '60s and John Cusack in the '80s -- and examines his musical brilliance, personal voyage and ultimate salvation. Love & Mercy, co-written by Oscar(R) nominated screenwriter Oren Moverman, also stars Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti, and is directed by Bill Pohlad, known as the Academy Award(R)-nominated producer for such bold films as Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, Sean Penn's Into the Wild and Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain.
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medPG13 PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
- Product Dimensions : 6.75 x 5.3 x 0.45 inches; 2.4 Ounces
- Item model number : 47432
- Director : Bill Pohlad
- Media Format : Blu-ray, Widescreen, Digital_copy
- Run time : 1 hour and 51 minutes
- Release date : September 15, 2015
- Actors : Elizabeth Banks, Paul Dano, John Cusack
- Studio : Artisan / Lionsgate
- ASIN : B01127XNHQ
- Number of discs : 1
Best Sellers Rank:
#32,591 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #2,771 in Drama Blu-ray Discs
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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While I have never had a chance to meet Brian Wilson his music has always had an impact on my life. I loved the good-times songs but I also loved the Pet Sounds sound just as much as I loved the Beatles from an early age. I had read about Brian's breakdown and bits and pieces of the story on his climb out of depression into a situation that might have been even worse with Dr. Euguene Landy controlling his life and over-medicating him.
This movie covers the dark, trying times of Brian Wilson interweaving two periods of his life together with excellent results. Paul Dano gives an incredible look into the young Brian and John Cusak exceeded my expectations as the older Brian. You get to see scenes of Brian in the recording studio that are nothing short of breathtaking as you get an idea of what his process was of getting the music out of his head and onto magnetic tape.
The story presented, I believe, does an excellent job of portraying Brian's descent into his mental issues as a young man without going over the top. Some people may find a lot of the movie hard to watch as so much of the Beach Boys music is about happy sun-filled days, girls and fast cars and Brian's life was anything but happy and carefree. Paul Giamatti portrays Dr. Landy in such a way that you know he's the bad guy from the moment he walks onto the screen.
Elizabeth Banks plays Melinda Ledbetter, the woman that Brian would fall in love with and the one that would be instrumental at getting him out of the controlling situation he was in. It is through her eyes we see the older Brian and get perspective on what he has had to endure.
There are scenes that will make you cringe as you watch them with Brian being abused both verbally and physically by his father and then Dr. Landy, the man he thought was trying to help him. When John Cusak, as the older Brian, tells the story of how his hearing in one ear is almost gone because his dad used to hit him so hard in such a matter-of-fact way it is truly heartbreaking. The movie ends with concert footage of Brian Wilson from the present day singing his song "Love and Mercy" which was the perfect way to end it.
Overall I thought this was a near-perfect movie about Brian Wilson. If you're looking for a movie full of girls and beach scenes you'll want to look elsewhere but if you are willing to delve into the darker side of a musical genius you will be rewarded.
After seeing this movie all I wanted to do was send some good thoughts and vibrations out to Brian Wilson. I doubt he'll ever read this review but on the off chance I just want to say thank you, brother, for the music and we love you!
Bill Pohlad's "Love & Mercy" is a loving cinematic poem to Brian Wilson, co-founder and the leader of The Beach Boys. Breaking free of the conventional tropes that hamper most biopics about popular artists; "Love & Mercy" shows us his creative process and takes us on a trip through Wilson’s cerebral hemispheres.
'Music is God's voice', Brian Wilson once said. And the sounds in this film are in fact heavenly. If you're a devotee of Brian Wilson and his music and know the back story, "Love & Mercy" is something of a religious experience. I cannot imagine a better tribute to such an important artist. The film is so exquisitely crafted that any small blemish or wrong note is absorbed in the texture.
Paul Dano and John Cusack give top notch performances as 'Brian Past' (1960s) and 'Brian Future' (1980s), respectively. Dano, particularly, embodies his portrayal of the younger Wilson in an all-consuming fashion. Cusack presents the older Wilson as a man who has been through some deep valleys. Both performances harmonize to create a unique portrait.
The film deftly juxtaposes both periods in Brian Wilson's life, only hinting at the harrowing "bed ridden" years. Oren Moverman's screenplay is finely crafted so that the story balances 'Brian Past' as he is fracturing just as 'Brian Future' is putting it all back together again. Director Pohlad's recreation of the "Pet Sounds" and "SMiLE" sessions is some of the most magical cinema I have maybe seen, specifically in the biopic genre.
The supporting performances are strong, as well; featuring Elizabeth Banks as Brian's future wife Melinda and Paul Giamatti as the Svengali-like psychotherapist Dr. Euguene Landy. Melinda slowly realizes the man she meets in the films’ opening scene, while selling him a Cadillac, is a damaged soul. But she gravitates into his world, presumably because of his tenderness and honesty. She also acts as the audiences’ conduit into the story of 'Brian Future', allowing us to view that part of the story through the eyes of an active bystander.
Also, of note is the enveloping photography of DP Robert Yeoman. His camera covers the 1965/66 "Pet Sounds" sessions in a "Cinéma vérité"-like fashion. We feel as though we are eavesdropping on the creative process at work. Contrast that with the cool pastel hues of the 1980s sequences and it's clear to see why director Bill Pohlad chose this particular cinematographer. Yeoman brings the same care and sensibility shown in the films he has shot for Wes Anderson to "Love & Mercy".
Equally matching the deftness of the films' look is its soundtrack. Atticus Ross creates mesmerizing soundscapes to aurally tell Brian's story; often used throughout the film as an auditory representation for Brian's greatest gift and his greatest curse: the etherial musical notes he hears and his, eventually debilitating, mental illness.
Love & Mercy manages to transcend the music biopic genre and become something deeper: art.
####### UPDATED 09-01-2015 #######
This review was originally posted on July 23rd, 2015; what follows are production related details sourced from interviews and reviews of the film. Also some notes about the home video release (DVD, Blu-ray and Digital).
Every so often a film comes along that almost feels like a "passion project" for the filmmakers and in the case of "Love & Mercy", that is most definitely the case. Albeit a rather protracted case study.
As mentioned in a story from the August 2015 Sight & Sound magazine, the film has been in development in one incarnation or another since 1988. Going all the way back to when Brian Wilson was firmly under the control of Dr. Eugene Landy. Originally, the film was to focus on the relationship between Landy and Wilson and star William Hurt & Richard Dreyfuss as Wilson and Landy, respectively. Thankfully, that version never went past the discussion phase. Curiously though, that project too was named "Love & Mercy". As one can imagine though, the results from a such a production at that time would have cast the overall story in a much different light. Think "Wouldn't It Be Nice: My Own Story" but as a film. One shutters at the thought.
Later, as recently as 2006, the film was in development at Warner Independent (a subsidiary of Warner Bros, which folded in 2008). That project was titled "Heroes & Villains" and was being produced by John Wells (of "ER" & "The West Wing" fame) and Claire Rudnick Polstein. That screenplay, written by Michael Alan Lerner (who received a co-writing credit for "Love & Mercy") by all accounts was a much more conventional biopic. And focused, rather heavily, on the decade that "Love & Mercy" largely ignores, the 1970s.
The story goes that eventual director Bill Pohlad was approached around this time with the "Heroes & Villains" script but politely declined to get involved. However, telling Wells & Polstein that if their project wasn't produced elsewhere to come back to him and perhaps he would want to take a stab at it, if you will. Fast forward to 2011 and that's exactly what happened. After the project at Warner Independent fell through, Pohlad was again approached to get involved and produce the film at his own production company, River Road Entertainment. It's at this time the decision was made to do a complete 180 (story-wise) and start fresh. Pohlad hired screenwriter Oren Moverman ("I'm Not There" and "The Messenger") to take a different approach to the material.
The vision of both men was to focus in on three periods of Brian Wilson's life. Specifically the mid 1960s and the making of "Pet Sounds" & "SMiLE", the mid 1970s and Brian's infamous 'bed years' and lastly the mid 1980s when a forty something Brian meets and falls in love with Melinda Ledbetter, while under the firm grasp of his psychologist, Dr. Eugene Landy. According to Moverman, in an interview from June 2015 (Collider.com) the original screenplay for "Love & Mercy" was some 170 pages. Eventually this was trimmed down to 120 pages, and in the process trimming the 1970s 'bed years' down to a couple of small exposition shots. What remained is what "Love & Mercy" eventually became, a two-strand film that aims big by focusing small.
That moves us to the general release of the film in the U.S. this past June. "Love & Mercy", having debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last September, did open domestically for another eight months. The film opened in roughly 480 theaters in the U.S. and did fairly well for a small indie film. Two weeks later the film went 'wide' and played in what was ultimately its maximum theater count of 780. I'm not sure opening the film last fall in the awards season would have meant better box office results or not. But, ultimately, the decision to hold the film and release it during the crowded summer season as counter-programming to the bigger summer films. While it perhaps might have fared better being released hot off the heels of TIFF, it now has a second chance on home video.
The Blu-ray release is exactly what I had hoped for, as a fan of the film. A high quality image (it's razor sharp at 1080p) and the soundtrack is pretty much flawless. The extras include commentary from director Bill Pohlad and screenwriter Oren Moverman. It's fairly informative with some nice tidbits about the production, nothing extraordinary though. Also included are four deleted scenes (totaling 7 minutes in length) that were excised from the final cut of the film. In the Collider.com interview referenced above, Oren Moverman stated that the first 'real' cut of the film was about 2 hours and 20 minutes.
The Deleted Scenes are terrific and a couple of them help flesh out certain aspects of the film. While a couple of others were probably rightly excised from the final cut.
* Deleted Scene #1: "Brian Meets His Idol"
Very brief interaction where Brian sees Phil and professes his adoration for Phil's work. Phil essentially blows him off leaving Brian perplexed and bittersweet. I think this scene would have been fine in the film but I get why it was removed. It probably would have taken the viewer out of the film. The actor that plays Phil does a great job at capturing his essence.
* Deleted Scene #2: "Brian Talks with His Family"
This is basically the full scene, as it appears in the screenplay. Brian, surrounded by the family (Audree, Murry, Carl, Dennis & Mike, along with Al) at the family's house explaining what happened on the plane. In the screenplay, this scene immediately follows the panic attack/nervous breakdown on the plane. It also immediately leads into the scene in the film where Brian, Carl & Dennis are sitting around and Brian explains his desire to "take them further". It's a strong scene but the reason it wound up on the cutting room floor is clear; it's redundant. Of note in this scene is Mike saying "Can I say something, on the record - you don't do it all by yourself Brian". In response to Brian expressing his desire to write lyrics with someone new. I like the scene a lot although, again, it's clear it had to go.
* Deleted Scene #3: "Brian Looks For a Collaborator"
This scene would have been better left in, in my opinion. Brian looks to Tony Asher to collaborate with him on lyrics for Pet Sounds; initially, Asher resists. It fleshes out a little more background on the creation of "Pet Sounds".
* Deleted Scene #4: "Murry Interrupts the Recording Session"
In the finished film a brief moment or two of this scene is glimpsed in the opening montage of 'highlights'. It's clear the scene might have halted the momentum of the opening sequence if it had been left in, therefore, it had to go. Although it is very powerful, even on its own. Based on an infamous moment in Beach Boys lore ("Help Me, Rhonda sessions"); the band is cutting the vocals for "I Get Around" when Murry & Audree arrive and the situation devolves from there.
All of the Deleted Scenes are treasures and I'm grateful they are presented on the home video release. Based on production stills, screenplay and other sources, there are very likely several other deleted scenes and moments that are *not* included here. The one's I'm aware of are as follows:
* Brian Past in his bedroom, Marilyn asleep in bed, listening to "Be My Baby" over and over on his headphones.
* Brian Future speaking to Dr. Landy about how to handle the goodnight kiss after their date.
* Brian Past and Van Dyke Parks writing "Heroes & Villains" in the sandbox.
* Brian Past watching TV with Marilyn and seeing news about fires in the news and assuming the 'Fire' tapes are the cause.
An extended cut of this film would be very welcome, perhaps someday it will come to pass.
The other Blu-ray extras are two featurettes that are pretty standard EPK fare. Although seeing the production in motion is exciting for a 'behind the scenes' look.
Overall this is a *no-brainer* purchase if you are a Brian Wilson fan or a Beach Boys fan. It's also a deeply emotional cinematic experience. If you’re just curious about what the noise about Brian Wilson and "Pet Sounds" is all about, this film goes a long way to cementing the importance of this towering figure in Twentieth Century popular music.
The featurette and the film deliver the passion that is necessary to do justice to America’s most influential musician over the last 50 years. If you love music, and/or the human spirit at its best, give this a look and listen – you will surely appreciate it.
Top reviews from other countries
I thank God for Brian stopping by to look at a car in a showroom. Had he not met the car sales lady, Melinda Ledbetter, Brian Wilson may have met an early grave and been crushed beyond recognition on the way to it.
The Barbeque scenes were played exceptionally well and made you want to drag the bullying Psycho-ciatrist out of Brian Wilson's face.
John Cusack and Paul Dano captured through facial expression, body language and tone of voice the inner-struggle and confusion Brian lived with.
I had no idea Brian had suffered so. No wonder he had a breakdown.
All round good acting. Singing side was good too. I would recommend this film.
Extremely well received.
This film works at many levels, including the genius behind the recording of Pet Sounds and a sample of the work of the fabulous wrecking crew.
There is romance, and intrigue.
John Cusak should have received an award for his portrayal of the great Brian Wilson in his older years.
I love Pet Sounds iconic in its time, and this film has been made with love and respect.