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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Love & Mercy [Blu-ray]


(Bill Pohlad, 2014)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal

Video: Lionsgate



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:01:34.745

Disc Size: 43,081,736,085 bytes

Feature Size: 32,804,935,680 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: September 15th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3149 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3149 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English (SDH), English, Spanish, none



• Commentary with director Bill Pohlad and Producer Oren Moverman

A California Story: Creating the Look of Love & Mercy (10:48)

A-Side / B-Side - Portraying of the Life of Brian Wilson (25:32)

• Deleted Scenes (7:27)





Description: Bill Pohlad's Love & Mercy, a biopic of Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson, focuses on two distinct periods in the songwriter's life. One timeline follows Wilson (played as a younger man by Paul Dano) as he quits performing live in order to focus on the creation of the album Pet Sounds, the single "Good Vibrations,"" and the eventually discarded album Smile. During this period of intense work, Wilson's mental-health issues grow worse. The other section of the film features John Cusack as an older Wilson, as he attempts to escape the influence of a manipulative doctor (Paul Giamatti) who has become a totalitarian guru to him. Helping him in this endeavor is a car saleswoman named Melinda (Elizabeth Banks). Love & Mercy screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.



The Film:

A thoughtful portrait of Beach Boys genius-in-residence Brian Wilson, Bill Pohlad’s film flits between two distinct phases in Wilson’s life: the ’60s Wilson (Paul Dano), struggling with his demons to create his masterpiece, Pet Sounds, and the ’80s Wilson (John Cusack), a broken, mentally ill man under the shady scrutiny of therapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti).

The film is great on the the realities of making music (watch Dano cajole cellists to get the right sound for Good Vibrations) but equally fascinating on Wilson’s deterioration as Landy battles for his soul with girlfriend Melinda (Elizabeth Banks). Perfectly played by Dano and Cusack, it’s the film Wilson’s talent deserves: original, smart and affecting. And it goes without saying that the tunes are sublime.

Excerpt from Empire Magazine located HERE

Biopics are a bit of a conundrum, aren’t they? On one hand, they seem like ideal fodder for movie adaptations since the subject of the film will likely carry a guaranteed audience, especially when popular musicians and bands are the focal point. But on the other hand, how can one film possibly be adequately succinct and still encompass enough to satisfy the expectations of that crowd of fans?

Luckily, with the new Brian Wilson-centric, Love and Mercy, a fittingly harmonious balance in this field is reached. Instead of following one linear storyline through the film, we instead are shown two pivotal glimpses into the Beach Boys songwriter’s life — one spanning from the heyday of the California rock band as a young Wilson (Paul Dano, “Prisoners”) composed the monumental Pet Sounds album in 1966 and spiraled toward the ill-fated follow-up record, Smile, and the other centered around a middle-aged Wilson (John Cusack, “The Raven”) in the 1980s out of the public eye and under the close watch of his therapist, Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti, “San Andreas”).

Excerpt from The Critical Critics located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Love & Mercy looks great on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.  The film's image does quite a few shifts to represent the young and older Brian Wilson. It works well with a grainy appearance for the younger and intentional speckles and light damage for footage of the band playing (although it is clearly Dano.) Very impressive and kudos to the art direction.  This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate for the video. Pastel colors are rich and the image quality is wonderfully representative. There are no flaws - the video is clean (more modern sequences) and produces, what appears to be, an authentic visual presentation. Very pleasing.






















Audio :

The audio may be the star of the film (and Blu-ray) - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a heaping 3149 kbps (24-bit). It sounds fabulous. The supportive 'score' is by Atticus Ross (Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Book of Eli, Blackhat) as well we get standards connoting the era; The Moody Blues' Nights in White Satin, Chuck Berry's (written) Surfin' U.S.A. and multiple Wilson/Beach Boys tunes; Don't Worry Baby, Surfer Girl, I Get Around, Fun, Fun, Fun, Pet Sounds, the iconic hits Wouldn't It Be Nice and Sloop John B and more. Impossible not to be moved my this music via the rich, deep lossless. There are optional English and Spanish subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.


Extras :

Lionsgate include a super commentary with director Bill Pohlad and producer Oren Moverman referencing historical data and details only the production heads could impart. Fascinating for those who enjoyed the film. Also included is the 10-minute A California Story: Creating the Look of Love & Mercy with the principals discussing how they achieved the era look - colors, decor etc. What many might find quite beneficial is the 26-minute documentary A-Side / B-Side - Portraying of the Life of Brian Wilson and how the singer/songwriter's life was related in the film. There are also a handful of deleted scenes including when Brian Wilson meets his hero Phil Spector. There is also a code to get the digital copy of the film for portal devices.



I was very moved my Love & Mercy. I thought it was an exceptional bio-pic. The film had sensitivity and the performances - notably Cusack and Dano were fabulous. I thought it was quite brilliant and is definitely a film I will revisit.  The Shout! Factory Blu-ray produces a strong a/v presentation - and well-produced extras that add even further value to the superb film. I'm a little iffy on the cover - but we give this a very strong recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

September 11th, 2015


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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