Wednesday, September 10, 2014

[Review] God Help The Girl

Stuart Murdoch, lead singer of beloved Scottish indie band Belle & Sebastian, directs this unabashedly twee musical drama. It seems to occupy a space directly in the middle of Mamma Mia and Once. Let's say its sort of like an alt, Euro version of Grease. The project is a charming and likable effort, but it doesn't fully deliver on all parts.

Set in the West End of Glasgow, God Help The Girl shows the formation of a 3-piece band of teenagers. We first meet Eve (Emily Browning), a young woman battling with anorexia in a medical clinic. She has a penchant for singing and songwriting. After an early exit from the clinic, she meets James (Olly Alexander) and Cassie (Hannah Murray, some of you might know her as Gilly from Game of Thrones), two other budding musicians, and the group begins crafting blissful pop songs. They fuse a friendship, having long talks while looking out at the city, going on day-trips, and canoeing down a scenic river. It all drifts lightly--a little too lightly. In turn, the lulls in the story render all of the musical breakouts as definite highlights. The catchy and endearing indie-pop songs are extremely enjoyable and well-crafted, making you clamor for the next one.

Emily Browning is fantastic in the lead role, giving her character both an inspired enthusiasm and an undertone of anguish. Her voice is perfect for these songs. But despite its bright spots, God Help The Girl really could've used some cutting in the editing room. If the story and supporting characters had as much distinctive flair and energy as the songwriting and musical arrangements, this would've really been something special. While the songs are indeed the main focus, that doesn't mean the overall picture couldn't have benefited from a stronger narrative. 

You wont necessarily want to see the film again, but you'll certainly want to give the soundtrack another listen.


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