Love and Mercy: The Brian Wilson Sessions
The 80s material isn't bad by any means and tells an interesting story, it's just that Paul Dano's performance is so fantastic and the 60s recording sessions are recreated with such love and detail... that I really only want to rewatch those parts. Thankfully, the narrative when the 80s material is stripped away remains cohesive. So this is my ideal John-Cusack-free version of 'Love and Mercy', called 'The Brian Wilson Sessions'.
See Brian record the masterpieces 'Pet Sounds', 'Good Vibrations' and 'Smile' uninterrupted. The music is it's own redemption.
Pet Sounds Sessions (CD Boxset)
Smile Sessions (CD)
www.freesound.org (Various additional SoundFX)
- All 80s scenes removed
- Scenes lightly resequenced
- Ending montage remixed
- Custom fanedit titles added/replaced
- Studio date titles added (x3)
- Additional Beach Boys music added (Plus a little Beatles too)
- New postscript written
00.00.24 - Added vintage 1969 'Columbia' titlecard from 'Easy Rider' Blu-Ray (As this is a Sony picture I thought it was almost-appropriate for the time period)
00.00.26 - Added 'Our Prayer' from The Beach Boys LP 'Smile' over 'Columbia' logo and first scene (Sorta dreamlike feel I hope)
00.00.41 - Added deleted 'Brian Meets Phil Spector' scene. Showing Brian's inspiration to move beyond the Surf-Pop genre that will play out across the film. Also added fade-in. Now transitions into credit sequence
00.01.32 - Removed original opening scene (Brian in studio talking to self) to use later. Also removed soundscape and 70s Brian in bed scenes
00.01.36 - Removed John Cusack, Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks credits and replaced them with my own. Also remade Paul Dano credit (Full credits retained at end)
00.04.00 - Added 'Love and Mercy: The Brian Wilson Sessions' title and layered Brian (His head and Guitar) over the top
00.04.11 - Removed 6.5 minute John Cusack 80s section (Car showroom meeting) and added deleted 'Murray Interrupts The Recording Sessions' scene. Shows the pressure being exerted on Brian, which now transitions into his panic-attack on the plane.
00.04.56 - Removed exagerated 4th-wall-break that feature in the deleted material
00.05.39 - Removed second 4th-wall-break
00.06.46 - Removed third 4th-wall-break
00.07.12 - Added slow build-up of airplane noise over end of studio scene
00.08.18 - Added more airplane noise over the outro and added a slow buildup of metronome sound
00.08.29 - Added deleted 'Brian Talks With His Family' scene
00.13.53 - Added deleted 'Brian Looks For A Collaborator' scene. Added coda of The Beatles 'Nowhere Man' from 'Rubber Soul playing in background, which Brian was refrencing in the last scene
00.14.31 - Adjusted timing of first 'God Only Knows' Piano notes to leave space for Dano's last line in previous scene
00.14.32 - Removed 4-minute John Cusack 80s section (Concert date)
00.18.29 - 00.53.12 - 'Pet Sounds Sessions July 1965' title added
00.22.11 - Mixed in "Take 5" of 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' from 'Pet Sounds Sessions' Boxset to transition into next scene
00.22.16 - Added earlier scene of Brian in studio talking to self
00.23.21 - Removed 4.5-minute John Cusack 80s section (Dinner date) and added crickets chirping to night scene
00.27.28 - Replaced 2nd soundscape with 'Let's Go Away For Awhile (Stereo Mix)' from 'Pet Sounds Sessions' Boxset
00.27.32 - Removed 12-minute John Cusack 80s section (Beach house and Landy confrontations)
00.42.46 - Mixed in 'Sloop John B (Stereo Mix)' from 'Pet Sounds Sessions' Boxset to transition into "comedown" scene. Also added fades in/out of black to emphasise the break between albums
00.43.07 - Removed 6-minute John Cusack 80s section (Night together)
00.47.04 - 'Good Vibrations Sessions February 1966' title added
00.52.29 - Used shot of Brian depressed in bed from end montage to transition into 'Surfs Up' performance
00.52.35 - Removed 4-minute John Cusack 80s section (Over medicated)
00.53.12 - 'Smile Sessions August 1966' title added
01.01.45 - Totally recut, reordered and remixed the audio for the closing montage, removing all 80s shots and dialogue
01.02.07 - Removed 6-minute John Cusack 80s section (Landy confrontation)
01.03.06 - Removed 4.5-minute John Cusack 80s section (Landy and the Will)
01.04.53 - Removed 6-minute John Cusack 80s section (Closing scenes)
01.04.56 - Replaced original four closing narration cards, with four new ones focusing on the plot elements from this edit only
01.05.49 - Added 'Brian Wilson Sessions' title underneath 'Love and Mercy' title (Left other titles intact, so original full cast/crew get credit)
Brian Wilson biopic LOVE & MERCY normally jumps between the ‘60s and ‘80s, but TM2YC’S edit focuses solely on the recording of PET SOUNDS, “Good Vibrations” and SMILE in the ‘60s. The original film’s more straightforward ‘80s story – about Wilson’s wife-to-be rescuing him from the control of his psychologist – has been cut.
There’s still plenty of conflict for Wilson in the edit: pressure from his father and his cousin to write hits; pressure to live up to his idol Phil Spector and to compete with the Beatles; and he was just beginning to hear disembodied voices after experimenting with drugs.
The addition of four deleted scenes fleshes out the drama so that the ‘60s material works better and can stand as its own film.
TM2YC also adds new titles, performs nips and tucks on various scenes, and does extensive audio work – all impeccable to my eyes and ears (save for one notable grammar error in the closing narration cards).
But the most important difference in THE BRIAN WILSON SESSIONS is the overall experience. In the original, Wilson suffers a breakdown and then finds redemption in love. In the edit, he is left broken at film’s end.
The edit is fascinating, affecting and difficult to watch. TM2YC helps pull the film back from the brink of despair by removing a couple of composer Atticus Ross’ queasy soundscapes (one is brilliantly replaced by the instrumental “Let’s Go Away for Awhile”).
Yet somehow, I wanted THE BRIAN WILSON SESSIONS to show Wilson, well, a little more love and mercy. Of course, there’s no use pretending he had an easy time of it. But a few further changes might have captured the sweetness of his music and created a more loving portrait of the man.
Some ideas (take ‘em or leave ‘em): “Our Prayer” could be played in full as an overture, so that the track’s feeling can sink in before Brian meets Phil Spector (a great opening scene); Brian’s first time trying LSD could be moved before the first time he hears voices (to better show what I understand to be cause and effect); and the closing narration cards could include some info on Brian’s mental health, rather than just info on the music’s critical and commercial success.
It’s one thing to read about Wilson’s experiences in the ‘60s – it’s another to be given a window into his experiences, which TM2YC’s edit accomplishes. “What caused Brian Wilson’s breakdown?” is a question without a simple answer, and THE BRIAN WILSON SESSIONS gives the best answer I’ve seen so far.
TM2YC's "Love and Mercy" edit is the way this movie should be seen. Without the bloat of the less successful Cusack scenes weighing it down, it's now a tighter, more focused story about an artist's journey.
It starts off with a bang: Putting that Phil Spector scene up top was a stroke of brilliance, as it sets up Brian's motivation for the rest of the movie.
However, I would've liked to have seen a little more mercilessness with the editing knife -- restoring scenes from the cutting room floor sometimes causes a few redundant moments. And the ending montage, while expertly cut, could've ended a few shots earlier.
But those are tinsy nitpicky things. By removing the "older Brian" section, the movie is no longer a so-so -- if more marketable -- "love conquers all" story. This is now a leaner story about Brian's opus. To borrow a Beach Boys analogy, TM2YC has turned Smiley Smile back into SMiLE.