The Beach Boys’ creative head, Brian Wilson, was not just its musical brain but also a very complicated personality. All his life he suffered from anxiety, fighting against his psychosis. Director Bill Pohlad’s film shows the very sensitive young Brian (Paul Dano) of the 1960s, starting his musical career. He was shy and a loner, not caring much for the limelight. He only wanted to listen to the music in his head and compose songs. Songs like “Good Vibrations” and “Wouldn’t it be Nice” amongst others made him one of the world’s greatest popstars.
Eventually, the pressure of fame took its toll. By the 1980s Brian had become a weak, helpless man (brilliantly played by John Cusack) being totally controlled by a cunning psychiatrist (Paul Giamatti). When he met Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), he was immediately drawn to her. Her love gave him hope for a life free from description drugs.
Enjoy the wonderful music and the very convincing and emotionally touching performance of a stellar cast. (Birgit Schrumpf)
A man goes into a Cadillac showroom and sits in one of the cars. He asks a beautiful, blond sales woman to sit with him inside the car. Although she feels a bit insecure, she agrees. So begins a dramatic change in the life of Brian Wilson, the incredibly successful songwriter for the Beach Boys.
Flashbacks to the 1960s depict a young Wilson (Paul Dano) struggling with finding his inner voice after the meteoric rise to fame with pop tunes. He asks to quit touring so he can concentrate on what he thinks will be his best album ever, Pet Sounds. Although the group agrees to let him quit the tour, they are not too pleased with the new style of music. Flashing forward to the late 1980s, a somewhat disconnected Wilson (John Cusack) shyly asks to take the lovely Cadillac sales woman, Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) on a date, of sorts. Ledbetter truly enjoys her time with Wilson but feels uncomfortable with the close watch of Wilson’s psychotherapist, Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). She is also shocked at the number of pills the doctor has Wilson taking, as is Wilson’s housekeeper who conspires to hide the pills. Questioning the doctor, however, Ledbetter finds herself banned from contact with Wilson. The rest of the film looks back on early songwriting days, parties, breakdowns and best of all, the music with a final resolution to the question of whether Wilson truly suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The love of music and the love of a good woman come together, complimented by terrific performances by Cusack, Banks, and Giamatti, for lots of Fun, Fun, Fun! Not just for Beach Boy fans. (Mary Nyiri)