Brian Wilson was the songwriter and leader of the Beach Boys. His talent was not always appreciated by his abusive father and it led to him having a mental breakdown that affected him for years. In the 1980s, he was being overly medicated by a scheming psychotherapist. During this phase in his life, he meets Melissa Ledbetter, a Cadillac saleswoman, who he starts to date and uncovers that this doctor is trying to run Brian Wilson’s life for his own benefit. Paul Dano plays Brian Wilson during the 1960s and John Cusack plays him in the 1980s. It sounds like that would be odd, but it worked really well. It was another way to show the differences in time beyond the different clothing and cars.
All the actors in this movie were fantastic. Paul Dano really embodied Brian Wilson. At the very end of the movie, Brian Wilson has a cameo and I didn’t realize until then how much Dano looks like Wilson. Even beyond the looks, Dano was fascinating to watch while he created new music. I liked seeing how Wilson had every instrument and sound in his head when creating Pet Sounds, but then worked to recreate it in a studio with hired musicians, animals and other noises. It was fun to watch him create the music and then sad when his dad, bandmates, and the general public did not appreciate what he had created until much later.
John Cusack does not look like Brian Wilson, but did an excellent job portraying Wilson’s confusion about what was going on in his life. He was vulnerable and frightened that he would end up lying in bed again for many years unable to move. He fully trusted his doctor, even though there were so many signs that it was not good for him. The way he met Elizabeth Banks’ Melissa Ledbetter was very cute. Their courtship was very odd, but also very sweet. Elizabeth Banks was excellent like she is in everything. I’m a big fan. Her hair and outfits were amazing. Paul Giamatti, as the doctor, was slimy, scary and threatening. You wanted to punch him every time he was on the screen.
Overall, the movie was very sad. I knew that Brian Wilson suffered from some mental conditions, but I had no idea the extent of what he went through. I am glad he finally found the help he needed and I hope he has a much happier life now. Mostly this movie made me want to listen to a lot of Beach Boys after watching it.