"God Help the Girl"
Release Date: Sept. 12, 2014
Running Time: 111 minutes
In the no-frills musical God Help the Girl, Emily Browning’s eating disorder patient Eve self-treats herself with a form of music therapy to communicate her pain and suffering. After running away from a psychiatric hospital, Eve starts an indie pop band with new friends, James and Cassies (Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray, respectively). Things, though, get complicated when the overly sensitive James misreads Eve’s feelings for him, placing the band’s debut gig in jeopardy. Set in his native Glasgow, God Help the Girl writer/director Stuart Murdoch knows about the pressures of being in a band. He’s the lead singer and songwriter for indie popsters Belle & Sebastian. For his film debut, Murdoch’s borrowed songs from the side project God Help the Girl, with the more-than-capable Browning recruited to sing many of the 1960s girl group-flavored songs originally perfected by Catherine Ireton. As grim as God Help the Girl may sound, it carries itself with the same dreaminess and delicate beauty as the best of Belle & Sebastian’s most precious songs. Murdoch keeps Eve’s attempt to heal herself emotionally and psychologically as grounded as a Mike Leigh dramedy as possible, even when she breaks into song in the middle of the street or in her bedroom. God Help the Girl’s musical interludes possess a homemade quality, almost as if they were made for YouTube, as opposed to the highly stylized music video-like sequences that energized Sucker Punch, which starred Browning as a young woman who drifted into fantasy as a means to cope with her mental illness. Murdoch purposefully employs each song to either to allow Browning to articulate Eve’s fragile state of mind or to advance the narrative. Browning is an actress who often seems disengaged from what’s going on around her. Blame it on her fragile face, which looks like it was made from glazed porcelain, and a vacant glare that suggests she would rather than anywhere than where she is. In God Help the Girl, there’s a light that burns in Browning’s eyes and a state of awareness about her that makes us believe she is fully committed to the rock ’n’ roll dream her damaged young soul pursues. She articulates the meaning of Murdoch’s songs with a poignancy that cannot be faked, especially during the haunting “Musician Please Take Head,” which finds her in a downward spiral. There isn’t much more to God Help the Girl outside of Eve’s struggles to confront her illness. Everything revolves around Eve, from the formation of the band to their first concert. James is defined by his relationship with Eve, while Cassie is nothing more than a third wheel. Murdoch still manages to provide keen personal insights into the dynamics of a band in its formative stages, in particular one that’s led by an enigmatic talent. He knows how music and the creative process can bring people together as much as it can divide them. For Eve, the friendship she shares with James and Cassie is as vital as she music she makes. Through song, she finds her voice. Through her friends, she finds an audience willing to listen to her. A cry for help and understanding is a cry for cry for help and understanding, no matter whether it is sung or spoken.
Aired: Sept. 11, 2014
Web site: http://us.godhelpthegirl.com/