Love and Mercy: a moving slice out of the life of a creative genius

You begin to understand a bit more about what artists go through by the time you finish Love and Mercy. The story of Beach Boy founder and main creative engine Brian Wilson is a moving account of the cost of a lifetime of intense focus on getting an artistic vision out of your system and out to an audience.


The story is told from two perspectives: a young Wilson (played by Paul Cano) and his struggle to produce his critically-acclaimed 1966 album Pet Sounds and the trajectory his personal life took after that; and a middle-aged Wilson in the mid-1980s (played by John Cusack) being rescued from the clutches of his over-controlling “guardian” Eugene Landy (player by Paul Giamatti) by his future wife Melinda Kae Ledbetter (played by Elizabeth Banks).

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How groundbreaking music is built from the ground up by a man alone in his journey to see his vision made real is the most astounding takeaway from this film. For most of us who mainly consume works of art and fail to appreciate the courage and perseverance that goes into the creative process, catching a glimpse of the making of art makes us a little bit richer in mind and spirit.

If only for this aspect, Love and Mercy is a film already worth seeing. But with a top-notch cast delivering top notch performances, it is an immersive trip following the footsteps of an American icon.

2 Replies to “Love and Mercy: a moving slice out of the life of a creative genius”

  1. 1988. One of my many years in college. Rolling Stone magazine was my bible along with Sports Illustrated. I bought this CD ( Love and Mercy) back in that time in retail history where you had the choice to buy the vinyl or cassette version. This was the cover story. A year later Late Night with David Letterman sideman Paul Shaffer released an album with a mixture of musical styles and the heavy metal track had Joe Satriani and Brian Wilson. The Bare Naked Ladies in their 1992 debut Gordon also had a tribute to this story . In the 60s Brian Wilson’s creativity pushed the Beatles.

    1. I’m not very conversant in musical jargon but if I interpreted that part of the movie right, it seems Brian Wilson discovered and applied an altogether new class of harmonics when he created the music in the Pet Sounds album. It’s one of those rare achievements that creates an entirely new genre in an artistic field.

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