Sundance Review: God Help the Girl

Before I begin my review I must make clear once again what colored my view on this particular film: sky-high expectations. Seeing this movie again knowing what it is will no doubt help me appreciate it for itself and not for what I wanted it to be. How does one get such high expectations for something they've never even seen a trailer for? Well a couple of photos, plot synopses, a deep appreciation for the music of Belle & Sebastian, as well as some glowing reviews made me sure this movie would be an instant favorite; when in fact there were moments that I instantly adored...but the movie as a whole needs time to grow on me.

I really liked the story going on here about a girl trying to cure her problems with the aid of music. Only two things really kept me from loving this movie: occasional lulls between the fantastic (and generally wishing the movie was a bit shorter and the pacing a bit quicker...) and the fact that though I knew the lead character had her own serious problems and deserved to be cut some slack...I still didn't particularly like her. That isn't a slant on the actress though as Emily Browning does a great job (we Emilys have to stick together!) I guess I wish some of the focus could have been spread more equally to her far more amiable bandmates (Cassie, in particular, could have used a bit more depth and screen time..and I have to say that Olly Alexander who played James was simply adorable.) 

These things aside, there really was quite a lot to love here. There was a lot of clever humor, wisdom and truth, wonderfully sincere moments and most importantly: great music! As would be expected of a hipster indie musical, a lot of the highlights revolve around the fantastic musical sequences. The choreography of these sequences were great and, in general, the production design as a whole really stood out. I really enjoyed this musical with its playful tone and it's definitely clear that this was a labor of love by Belle & Sebastian lead singer Stuart Murdoch...I just think if it had been a little bit tighter I would have ADORED it. Still, a great effort worth seeing that will no doubt grow on me. EMILY RATING: 7.5/10 with room to grow on a rewatch. 


Sarah said...

Just think of how different her career would have been if the Series of Unfortunate Events really had become a series like Harry Potter (she is the same actress, right?). She probably wouldn't have done this film if that first movie had hit it big.

Emily said...

Yes it's the same actress. And it's true, now she can kind of make something of herself without being tied to a franchise. Plus not many people get to star in a coming of age indie musical! haha