God Help the Girl (2014)


This is a quirky film to say the least and one that will most probably divide people down the middle like Moses and the Red Sea. I think I’m the wrong crowd for it, or possibly not full of the heart it tries to enchant but nevertheless it’s still a somewhat sweet affair.

After absconding from hospital Eve (Emily Browning) heads to Glasgow in the search to follow her dream of music success. At a gig she meets a fellow musician called James (Olly Alexander) who in turn introduces Eve to a student of his, Cassie (Hannah Murray). The trio instantly get on and push forwards into trying to make a band and have their shot at being part of music history.

Scripted and directed by a member of a band quickly gives this film a melodic touch, Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian knows how to capture music if not a surefire hit of a movie. The entire feature comes across like a wafting Kate Bush video and from the beginning as Eve breaks away and sings into the camera you know you’re in for something really different, but this isn’t exactly a good kind of different in my eyes.

The look of the film keeps on course with the feel of the simple plot. Maybe for softer hearted folk the dreamy aspect and twee fashions will enthrall or at least delight but for me and I’m sure others it becomes a film that feels achingly slow and pretentious. The styles of this cool cats may be on trend but the whole show is too hipster for its own good and especially as James whines on about trends and music lore it wades into watery drivel.

The oddness isn’t a huge flaw though as certain shots of Glasgow capture the imagination and numerous uses of faded frames layered over close ups and such carry on that more independent selling tag this film proudly waves. Some weird dance choreography is exactly that; weird but delightfully so as legs sway back and forth or people just generally look like they’re having fun but alas we’re not in the same party boat as them.

The music and lyrics by Murdoch are filled mostly with piano and a backing of guitar that feel indie and chic but after a short time they tire and the way the tracks are played in and mimed feels wholly messed around with, i.e studio echoes and auto-tune. The songs aren’t wishy washy per say but they don’t excite or have the same emotional pull that ‘Once’ managed to do on a small budget and similar style plot.

There’s a degree of fun to be had in seeing a fun screaming horde of chasers parodying The Beatles and a neat yet surreal sight of a Julie Andrews woman riffing on The Sound of Music. The breaking of the fourth walls during songs is actually a neat thing to keep going and the stunning Browning is a great lead to keep you watching even when you wonder why you still are.

Emily Browning is an interesting lovely face and talent to watch and with her character’s problem, which I won’t spoil, you do connect to her and the end is bittersweet but right. As she goes on she grows in self-confidence and you really feel that, the journey of Eve transforming as she looks more like Babydoll from ‘Sucker Punch’ as the film plays out. Olly Alexander is an alright male lead, he gets annoying and fast and that’s it really. Hannah Murray plays another Cassie, this time not a dreamer from ‘Skins’ but a student with a love of music and loyalty to James and Eve as they play their tunes.

This is more of an art like project than a fully functioning film and though I know plenty will like it for it’s charm and playfulness, I couldn’t get past the barrier of hipster material and soft crooning which made it drag with little substance to justify.



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