Friday, January 24 2014, 07:39 AM MST
Sundance 2014: God Help the Girl
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Stuart Murdoch
Starring: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger, Cora Bissett
Category: World Dramatic
Recommended To: Fans of Belle and Sebastian and whimsical pop musicals.
Synopsis: Eve (Emily Browning) is mentally unstable and full of dreams of starting a band and making it big.
Review: God Help the Girl is a dreamy and melancholy experience laced with a certain pop sensibility that masks the unhappiness. Its most inspired moments tend to feel like music videos that reflect the nostalgic attitude of writer/director Stuart Murdoch (best known as the singer/songwriter for Glasgow’s indie pop darlings Belle and Sebastian). These moments work quite well in a sort of a French new wave sort of way (even if the tunes drift away, rather than connecting). Unfortunately when it comes to the actual narrative the film isn’t as effective. The performances are a bit stiff and stifled and while the dialogue is appropriately naive it feels secondary to the mood, the atmosphere and the songs and the pop videos. The film also seems a bit confused about who its protagonist is. Is it Eve, the girl with the stars in her eyes, or James, the quiet boy with the guitar? It feels like Eve’s story but at the end it shifts to become James’ and while that may provide the most poignant moment in the film it also feels like it belongs as part of a different movie; a better, more grounded movie with a more likeable protagonist. Maybe it should have been his story all along.
-Ryan Michael Painter