I am a film critic, but I am also - despite what you may have heard - a human being.
I am a film critic, but I am also — despite what you may have heard — a human being.
I try to account for my personal tastes and expectations to connect movies with the right audience. I’m like a movie matchmaker or maybe a film sommelier.
I tell you this because I still don’t get movie musicals. I know a lot of people love “Les Mis,” but every time I try to get sucked into the story, I stop as soon as everyone starts singing at the same damn time. How, I ask, how do they know all the words?
Which brings me to “God Help the Girl,” the rare musical even I can get behind, not because it’s a musical, but because it’s a musical rooted deeply in Scottish indie dream-pop.
This should come as no surprise, as it’s a project written and directed by Stuart Murdoch of the band Belle & Sebastian. If this sentence excites you, so will “God Help the Girl.”
Emily Browning plays Eve (who is, ostensibly, the “girl” who needs help in the title). She’s an emotionally troubled young Aussie living in Glasgow, Scotland, who works out her emotional troubles through music.
With like-minded partners in James (Olly Alexander) and Cassie (Hannah Murray), Eve sets out to form a great pop group.
For fans of Murdoch’s music, “God Help the Girl” is Belle & Sebastiantastic. The emotional earnestness of the songs really does seem like the sort of thing that would burst spontaneously from a hyper-emotional young person. I mean that in a good way.
Browning (“Sucker Punch”) is well-suited for the material and has a fine voice. The cast is perfectly charming and says perfectly charming things like “I’ve got the constitution of an abandoned rabbit.”
Not surprisingly, the area where Murdoch is most deficient is storytelling. Tone shifts are sometimes cause for whiplash, and a not-great narrative flow makes some moments that should be emotional seem corny.
But if the very idea of a Belle & Sebastian musical piques your interest, I can’t see you being very disappointed with the “Girl.”