If you don’t like realism, then you’ll love “God Help The Girl.” Despite the fact that it deals with issues such as mental health and the prisons people invent out of their passions, it manages to remain true to the optimistic spirit of musicals such as “Singin’ In The Rain.” Writer-director and Belle and Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch furthers this feel through a series of bright, poppy musical numbers that play like new wave fantasies.
The movie concerns a young woman named Eve (Emily Browning) who is recovering from anorexia in a psychiatric hospital. She loves pop music and starts to write personal song lyrics, and on one of her escapes she meets James (Olly Alexander), a nerdish man with a fierce love of music and a desire to make an album. He falls for Eve, naturally, and they form a pop band with James’s guitar student Cassie (Hannah Murray) called God Help The Girl. Various complications ensue, as the film heads to a bittersweet ending that is as hopeful as it is sad.
This movie has an endearing type of sweetness. The two main characters have their troubles – Eve her dysfunction and anorexia, James his lack of social skills and tendency to let his love of music get in his way – but they are treated with a type of understanding and empathy that makes you identify with them. Murdoch also mixes this sweetness with a quirky sense of humor – band mates taking their glasses off at the same time to fight, Cassie throwing down a rope like Rapunzel to let her friends into her house – that makes it even more distinctive. The visual style works well with this sweetness, turning the city of Glasgow into a beacon of brightness and gloriously cluttered record stores. The visual style complements the soundtrack to create a movie that is the equivalent of a delicious old desert made new by a clever young cook.