It takes approximately ten minutes for this movie to hammer that point home.
Brian Wilson (John Cusack) asks Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) for some pen and paper, and, after he’s left, she picks the paper up and reads the sole three words that are written on it: Lonely. Frightened. Scared.
This is more than a movie about a tormented musical genius. It is a portrayal of a man broken down by the many cruelties of this life, haunted by the pain of his past and with no hope of any redeeming future.
While I doubt there are many people out there with the near supernatural musical talents of Brian Wilson, something the movie makes effectively clear with engaging recording session scenes, of this I am convinced: there are many people in maddening pain out there, just like Wilson once was.
Every time John Cusack was on screen I found myself deeply discomforted, for there was no escaping the burden he had on him. Every line he utters is spoken with so much fear and vulnerability as to make one weep.
The scene in which he tells Melinda he loves her, while she begs him to get rid of doctor Landy (Paul Giamatti) is as heartbreaking as movies get.
As the credits rolled, and Wilson sang Love and Mercy to a live adoring audience, I was convinced of something else: with the right kind of love, even the most excruciating of scars can begin to heal, just like Wilson’s did.