Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
Fans of big screen musicals can thank fans of indie popsters Belle and Sebastian for this one. They crowd-funded the debut feature of the group’s singer/songwriter Stuart Murdoch, on the basis of the songs he’d already written for its characters. Though they’re outfitted for Paris in the 60s, the film’s trio of young musicians hail from present-day Glasgow. Australian transplant Eve is a gifted singer/songwriter undergoing treatment for depression. In Emily Browning’s radiant performance, singing your heart out clearly offers therapy no clinic can provide. Olly Alexander is James, an aspiring singer too, sabotaged less by his delicate physique than by his own pithily proclaimed high standards. He’s thunderstruck when his new friend Eve threatens to live up to them. As breezy as the other two are anxious, Cassie (Hannah Murray) is Olly’s singing student – rich, idle, and up for a bit of fun. What else can three such bright sparks do but start a band and put on a show? Equally adroit at conveying the delights they share, and the hurts they so blithely inflict, God Help the Girl is as ebulliently poppy and enticingly wistful as the songs that shaped it.
“God Help the Girl is not a film for cynics – either of the musical or cinematic persuasion – but it’s done with good humor and integrity… I’d rather have it over a hundred conventional jukebox musicals of the Mamma Mia! School.” — Jonathan Romney, Film Comment