Review: God Help The Girl
If you’re a hipster, then God Help the Girl will be your quintessential film. For those on the outskirts of hipsterdom (as this writer happens to be), the twee musical fairytale is a visual checklist of the oh-so-ironically cool youngsters’ favorite things (replete with a Julie Andrews knock-off!). Flannel, cycling, vintage clothing and cameras, bowler hats, laissez faire attitude about life, and the marked-off checklist goes on and on and on from there. And, like most hipster projects, the film lacks focus and substance.
The paper-thin (like its fragile kewpie doll-like heroine) plot revolves around Eve (Emily Browning of Sucker Punch fame) who escapes a psychiatric health facility, (where she is being treated for anorexia and depression), in order to seek out a potential bandmate at a local pub in Glasgow. There, she meets meek, observant James (Olly Alexander, from the band Years and Years), a talented singer/guitarist who takes her under his tender and caring wing. When he introduces her to his guitar learning student Cassie (Hannah Murray, familiar to audiences as Gilly on Game of Thrones), the oblivious-about-life life trio embark on starting a pop indie band.
Written and directed by Stuart Murdoch (of indie darling band Belle and Sebastian), the film’s strongest scenes (and the only ones steeped in any sort of realism) are when the characters break out into song (taken from Murdoch’s female-centric side project albums). Although the staging of the musical segments at times riff on Band of Outsiders and A Hard Day’s Night, the actors heartbreakingly convey Murdoch’s largely autobiographical soul-baring lyrics about emptiness, faith healers, and lost love. It’s a shame that when the songs stop, the film has as much depth (and looks much the same) as a snapshot of an Urban Outfitters ad campaign.
God help the non-hipster audience member that watches this film.