WARNING: This post has some spoilers. Beware if you’re planning on watching Love & Mercy, which I would highly recommend.
Some people who know me well may say that I’m an old soul. I enjoy obsolete forms of entertainment and I don’t care. From the ages of 6 through 12, I listened to a variety of music, but I really got into stuff from the 1960s (thanks Mom and Daddy Jeff). I grew up with the Beach Boys in the late 1990s. When I heard that there was going to be a Beach Boys movie, I practically went gaga and begged my close friends, and even my boyfriend (who normally hates musicals), to go see it in theaters when it came out. Sadly, no one could go see it in theaters with me.
I waited about a year to finally watch Love & Mercy, the story of the frontman of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson. I watched it from the comfort of my home the other night with a nice bottle of wine and buttered popcorn. Watching and listening to the opening scenes made my heart skip a beat and I couldn’t help clapping my hands and swaying. My poor poodle was confused and thought I was trying to play with her. I made her dance with me but I know she liked it from that cute smile she gave.
Many people don’t understand the mind of musicians and expect one to be just like every other. This isn’t true in every case. Not every musician is a genius, some are idiot savants. Some are the eclectic type or introverts that music listeners learn to adore in their own ways. As a musician, I felt very strongly about the story of Brian Wilson. I felt like I connected with some of the internal battles that he must have fought in his early career — wanting to express genuine and current feelings through song; having every note played perfectly, even after the twentieth time. I’ve never been on any drugs that made me trip like Brian Wilson, but sometimes I would hear the music in my head without even playing any instruments. My imagination took over.
Towards the end of the movie, I found myself getting emotional and teary-eyed. There are very few movies that grab deep into my soul and tug at my “heartstrings.” The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and the Sessions are among the other movies that made me feel such strong emotions. Love & Mercy made me feel as though I was honored to be shown such an extravagant and hidden story. The compassion of Elizabeth Banks’ character (Melinda Ledbetter) wasn’t the only thing that moved me. It was the pain that John Cusack (as older Brian Wilson) portrayed. It was the anger that Jake Abel’s character (Mike Love) felt and the desire to be chart topping. (The Beach Boys were competing against The Beatles for hits at one point.) All those emotions deeply impacted me and they were beautiful. There is beauty in pain because it teaches us so much about life.
Paul Dano (as younger Brian Wilson) may not be a hot stud like Channing Tatum, but the way he portrayed his character really sparked a fire within me. He did a great job channeling the passion, pain and happiness in his music and personal life. I had goosebumps listening to him sing. I was closing my eyes listening to the music and feeling the music. I was envisioning myself in another plane. I wanted to BE the music.
This movie is so underrated and it makes me want to cry. John Cusack, Paul Giamatti (who plays Dr. Eugene Landy) and Banks are such great actors. Why didn’t this movie get better publicity? Why didn’t more people feel as raw as I did by watching this? (It got a 90% rating from Rotten Tomatoes!) In a way, I’m glad not many people enjoyed it as much as I did; it’s a secret treasure. Maybe one day I will pass this onto my children and pray to God that they will at least try to understand the emotion and drive that belongs in creating music.