Larry Hudema
By Larry Hudema
September 21st, 2015

On Tuesday Sept. 29 Spotlight Films will be presenting the movie Love and Mercy.

Brian Wilson, the creative soul of the Beach Boys, was a musical voyageur, treading new and exciting musicscapes. He created the tender California sound, a rhythmic blind faith in teen romance that thrived despite the growing cultural thirst for the cynicism of Dylan, the unfocused anger of The Who, the ethereal omnipotence of the Beatles, and the street fighting masculinity of the Stones. Wilson was later impressed and influenced somewhat by the Beatles, particularly the album “Rubber Soul” and Phil Spectre’s Wall of sound style such as in “Be My Baby”, (sung by the Ronettes). He wanted to evolve his music and fired his father/manager for resisting change. He paid a heavy price for his talent.

In the 1960s, young songwriter and recording savant Brian Wilson (Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine) finds himself in the midst of extraordinary success after scoring numerous hit records with The Beach Boys. Following a dramatic panic attack on the plane taking the band to Houston to open a tour, he resigned from concert touring and ventured into the studio intent on creating “the greatest album ever made”, PetSounds. Meanwhile, his grip on reality slowly loosened as he attempted to cope with the overwhelming voices in his head. Later, in the 1980s, a middle-aged Wilson (John Cusack, War Inc., Being John Malkovich) is shown to be a broken, confused man under the pharmacological and legal thrall of therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti, Sideways, Cinderella Man). After meeting Wilson, Cadillac saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks, Hunger Games II, t.v.’s  Modern Family) is determined to save him from his crippling subservience to the manipulative doctor.

Directed by Bill Pohlad (producer 12 Years a Slave)  the film derives its title from the 1988 song by Wilsonand is presented in a parallel narrativecovering the two specific time periods in Wilson’s life: the 1960s and the 1980s. 

The film premiered in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. It received critical acclaim, with reviewers praising the film for its unorthodox approach to biography, original film score by composer Atticus Ross, Dano’s convincing performance as the increasingly unstable Wilson of the 1960s, and scenes which closely recreate Wilson’s advanced studio recording methods.

The real life Wilson – who had little involvement with the film’s development – called it “very factual.”

Love and Mercy won Best Original Song at the Nashville Film Festival and was nominated for 9 other awards, including Best narrative Feature for Pohlard at the Sydney International Film Festival.

Love and Mercy will be shown at the Gem Theatre at 7:30 pm.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Internet Movie Database (IMdB), the documentary Pet Sounds-Art That Shook the World, and Rotten Tomatoes. Thanks also to Marius and Maureen Paquet of the Gem Theatre and to our sponsors and patrons.

Other News Stories