Named after a song from Brian Wilson’s debut solo album, Love & Mercy is a biopic of the Beach Boys legend set partly at his creative peak in the 1960s, and partly at his personal low point in the 1980s. Here are the five most memorable moments from the film, which is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
1. In the 1960s, Brian (Paul Dano) asks his bandmates to be relieved from touring duties so he can work on their next album. “We can’t let the Beatles get ahead of us,” he says. “I can take us further.” When he gets the answer he wants, he jumps in a swimming pool to celebrate, and ‘Pet Sounds’ is born.
2. Brian sings an unfinished version of ‘God Only Knows’ at his piano and asks his father for feedback. It’s “too wishy-washy”, Murry Wilson (Bill Camp) tells his son. “Your brothers are going to hate it.” Paul McCartney would later call this ‘Pet Sounds’ classic his favourite song of all time.
3. Though the Beach Boys have recently enjoyed massive success with ‘Good Vibrations’, Brian is becoming increasingly troubled by voices in his head. Stressed and frustrated, he cancels a $5,000 recording session because “the vibrations are all wrong tonight”.
4. In the 1980s, Brian (now played by John Cusack) is effectively being controlled by Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), his overbearing therapist and legal guardian. Landy tries to warn off the woman Brian has been dating, Cadillac saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), by revealing his medical history. Brian was morbidly obese and showing suicidal tendencies, Landy claims, before his treatment pulled him back from the brink.
5. After securing proof that Landy is taking advantage of Brian, Melinda convinces Brian’s family to file a lawsuit against the therapist. Landy gets served with court papers at Melinda’s Cadillac showroom, but his furious reaction fails to make her back down. In real life, a 1992 restraining order would bar Landy from ever seeing Brian Wilson again.
Love & Mercy is available on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon today.