Our ambassadors review the movie Love & Mercy that is being screened in cinemas across the country in January 2016 as part of First Fortnight, Ireland’s Mental Health Arts Festival. 


See Change ambassador, Gormla Hughes writes:

I readily admit to being a Beach Boys fan.  Before the opening credits, I thought I would be caught up with their music.  I was, instead, blown away by the beauty of the mind that created the music.  The genius that is Brian Wilson.  This film navigates through Brian’s psychosis with intelligence and tenderness.  The brain of the creative expressionist without any doubt deviates from the baseline norm.  Equally, so do the ‘coyotes’, those who are bereft of integrity and empathy.  I loved that this film portrayed the creative deviation as the norm and the coyotes as the aliens(smiling widely). I do not like using the word vulnerable because it is now used as an associative to weakness, and it is not.  So, instead, I will say,I give credit to the director for showing the need for an advocate when we go into the dark for a little while, and are exposed to unscrupulous behaviours.  I was lifted with the happy ending, leaving me with a sense of hopefulness.  I defy anyone to watch this film and not come out questioning their idea of mental disorder.  To say ‘I never thought of it that way’.

See Change ambassador, Rick Rossiter writes:

With the up and coming First Fortnight’s 2016 events this January in Ireland, one of the main showcases will be the   screening of Love & Mercy throughout various screens across the country on January 11th and as you should assume, this film centres around Mental Health.

I had the honour along with other See Change Ambassadors to review the film back in November in UCD in order to give feedback and chat about the emotions that this wonderful film brought to the surface. It was not only helpful to banter back and forth about the film, it was also a great way to decompress my thoughts and filter out the multiple feelings that came into play while watching the movie.

Love & Mercy is a biopic revolving around the beginnings and follow through of a mental disorder of Brian Wilson, the creative genius behind the iconic American band The Beach Boys. The film jumps effortlessly Back and forth in time with Paul Dano playing the younger and John Cusack play the older versions of Brian Wilson throughout the picture with both grace and compassion in their own take on the main character and the different stages of his life.

Paul Giamatti plays Brian’s 24 hour watch dog and psychiatrist Eugene Landy, as well as being a control freak that over medicated he abused his authority that diminished and lessened Brian’s recovery to the near point of no return. This was a hard hitting portrayal of just how bad a human being can be and a warning to all that though this move is based on the past that even today some people can and have had bad experiences when it comes to the treatment of their disorders.

I will not go into the particulars or story line, this is an experience be to be seen first-hand, the only thing that I will say is to be prepared when it comes to your own thoughts and emotions while viewing the film because from the cinematic to the audio sensations that run throughout the movie you could find yourself feeling and understand all too well the hardships that Brian Wilson has had in his life time.

The other heads up is the extremelypassionate and well defined rendering by Elizabeth Banks of the characterMelinda, a woman that Brian was most fortunate to cross paths with in the latter stage of Brian’s journey. All I could say about this aspect of the story is that she is the turning point into his eventual recovery. So to all #WeAllNeedAMalinda as a movement for all to find that one something that will bring about that change we all need to get well again, that one need, that one person or one feeling and need that can kick-start a person back into living a life again.

Normally I find the treatment of mental health in films either over the topor insensitive to one’s true character and leaving a one dimensional version for audiences to see.  Director Bill Pohlad brings to the screen something people with a mental health disorder and the people in their lives can walk away from with a new found understanding or thought that says, “I am not alone.”

First Fortnight’s choice of film this year stands out by mile from previous choices, for the pure fact that you will find not just one theme but a numerous underlining themes all rolled up into a beautiful and yet complicated master-piece. My recommendation could never be so high and my thanks for bring this film to the forefront in order to show the true human side of a person’s struggle with a mental health issue as well as the understand that even though this darkness is there, that light can break it’s way pass the darkness and bring a person into a better light.

See Change ambassador, Sarah Bredin writes:

Two years ago, as First Fortnight’s film The Silver Linings Playbook gave mental health issues of bipolar disorder and extreme grief-related distress two very easy on the eye ambassadors in Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. This year, the angel in shining sportscar who swoops in to rescue the overly-medicated Beach Boy Brian Wilson from his tyrannical minder/psychiatrist in Love and Mercyis the gleaming beauty Elizabeth Banks.

Hollywood makes movies with beautiful people in them. It can be tempting to put distance between our own stories and those on screen by saying that those representations aren’t realistic, and that of course it would be easy to get better if Jennifer Lawrence wanted to teach us how to dance.

Personification of suffocation

If a sense of clinging, inescapable, powerlessness were to be personified, then Paul Giamatti’s Dr Eugene Landy in Love and Mercy would be perfect, even on a pantomime stage. “He’s behind you, in front of you, all around you! Stay under the duvet, it’s the only safe place!”

If the infinite, timeless, ageless, gentle, ever-renewing sense of possibility that came to me from having rescued myself from my apparent powerlessness to mental health difficulties was to manifest in human form, then I guess I would see Elizabeth Banks and Jennifer Lawrence hovering slightly above ground to my left and right, wherever I go.

It is quite possible that your angel of mercy is waiting around the corner, to pull you up and out of the life you feel you don’t control, the one where your most prominent feature seems to you to be your disadvantage. It is a lot more likely that you’ll have to inch your way out of there yourself though.


Your heart, the heart of your system, is strong; the fact that you’re alive is proof of that. What would a strong person do today? The same as you’d do if your Jennifer Lawrence or Elizabeth Banks were by your side, glowing with love and encouragement.

Take it one day at a time, one decision at a time, and encourage yourself with the same love and mercy you’d have for your own beloved, whether you’ve met them yet or not.

Brian Wilson is a lucky guy, but most of us have to begin and follow through on our own rescue.

All the more reliable are the independent identities we establish for ourselves.


Note: I’m not being tough, I’m just trying to connect with the strength at the heart of your system.


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