Film Review: God Help the Girl



God Help the Girl is the whimsical, musical film written and directed by indie-pop god and Belle & Sebastian front man, Stuart Murdoch. The film has been a work in progress for Murdoch since 2004 during the Dear Catastrophe Waitress tour. Then in 2009 the album God Help the Girl was released and Murdoch’s musical/film project was truly born.  

For some (me for example), the mere thought that Stuart Murdoch had made a film, that might embody a Belle & Sebastian album, was enough excitement for one year. Unsurprisingly, my expectation of sepia washed, bittersweet, melancholy scenes featuring beautifully awkward characters, was well and truly met. 

The film, set in Glasgow, follows Eve (Emily Browning), an effortlessly stylish and talented aspiring musician who escapes a psychiatric hospital in the hopes of making it big in music. When she crosses paths with hopelessly pretentious yet endearingly awkward aspiring songwriter James (Olly Alexander), they hit it off straight away. He introduces her to his guitar student Cassie (Hannah Murray), and the three become friends and form a band.

Without giving too much away, the rest of the movie pretty much consists of their largely uneventful yet incredibly cinematic adventures around Glasgow as the main characters try to define themselves as a band. With a bit of an unrequited love thing thrown in the mix the plot makes for a nice little film. 

But what sets God Help the Girl apart from being just another indie film with uncomfortable yet somehow likeable characters is its soundtrack (stating the obvious), the 1960’s-ish picturesque setting, and the surprisingly sensitive and realistic treatment of mental health issues… Through song! 

In all seriousness though, every musical number in this film is so ridiculously catchy and includes adorable dances that and make you smitten with the characters (see I Think I’ll Have to Dance with Cassie). And for Belle & Sebastian fans, some classic songs off The Life Pursuit make an appearance including opening song Act of Apostles II, Dress Up in You and, if you listen really carefully in one scene, Funny Little Frog is on the radio in the background. My personal favourite quirk of this film is that when Eve randomly breaks out into song, James reacts how any normal person would if their new friend started sing at them; confused and amused. 

Straight up, if you like Belle & Sebastian, are a female aged between 18 and 28  or are a fan of Emily Browning, you’ll love God Help the Girl. If not, it may be a bit touch and go, but I’m all three so for me God Help the Girl absolutely nailed it. 

Feature Image: Still from God Help the Girl