Movie Review on God Help the Girl (2014)

God Help the Girl is a 2014 musical film debut directed and with song written by Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian, telling the story of a once depressed teenager who recovers and marches on her way to making good music. Eve, an anorexic patient escaping from psychiatric hospital, meets James, a lifeguard, and his music student Cassie. Together they write songs and form a band with other local artists. As Eve’s boyfriend fails to deliver her tape to the radio station for screening and James has been distancing himself from his crush Eve having found out she has a boyfriend, Eve takes drugs and is sent back to the psychiatric hospital. Eve stays strong and has decided to attend music school in London. Before she leaves, the band performs in a concert with great success, and the radio station has played her tape. Online reviews on God Help the Girl are of mixed opinions. While some appreciate the creativity of Stuart Murdoch, others may find the separate musical episodes barely linked together by the story of Eve recovering from anorexia. True that the storyline is weak and the development of story inadequate with prejudiced focus on the musical parts, this first attempt by the Murdoch adds unique colours to the cinematic landscape. The costumes The main characters provide plentiful fashion inspiration to the audience – cute little black dress brought to life by Audrey Hepburn, bold leopard prints, and tartan trousers that were adopted as golf wear in the 1920s and are welcomed by the preppy fashion – their costumes are a pleasure to see on screen. Satchel used to be an exclusive item of English schoolboys in the 1950s and 60s, and yet have now become a necessary accessory of indie pop. The exquisite satchels carried by Eve and Cassie add a sense of independence to the characters and music but do not diminish any melodic softness. The bold use of colours – peach pink peter pan collar on orange floral dress and red hairband against red-blue strikes make you feel like starting afresh in the morning. The music Of course, the move is much more than that. Its music featuring Eve (Emily Browning) as the vocalist melts your heart. The simple backdrop and cute dance moves add to your anticipation of each little musical episode in the film. The songs describe simple things and emotions from daily life. Their melodies are lightly sonorous – contradicting it may seem, the apparently unintentional music circulates your mind and body long after your first perception. You can also sense independence from the music. Even without arrangement or ornaments, the blossoming melody can stand well on its own. Perhaps this is what makes it a gem. “Collective idiocy” The plot features a small argument between Eve and James towards the end. James once says, “I don’t mind people. I just can’t stand collective idiocy.” While it is difficult or almost impossible to distinguish between collective idiocy and general intellect, James has the tendency to isolate himself both out of superiority and inferior complex. He finds himself too good but at the same time unable to meddle in the turbid waters of the world. He stays as a lifeguard writing songs for his own pleasure. Indeed, the three main characters have been escaping from the world through music, especially Eve. It is certainly alright and a matter of personal choice as to the purpose of writing music – whether for personal pleasure, commercial value or gaining recognition. Only that as Eve gradually recovers from her emotional problems, she understands the importance of connecting to the world. By connecting to the world, she can receive more support and resources to produce better music. It is perhaps right for the critics to say that God Help the Girl is filmed for a certain niche – some cannot stand the isolated musical episodes and the lack of in-depth discussion through dialogues. However, it can certainly put you in a dreamy state for close to two hours. Same as the main characters, you can take a break from the reality for a while. Get yourself immersed in indie pop and wonderful vintage vision, and add in your own imagination to fill in the gaps – that surely is a pleasant experience on its own!

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