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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 was 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.

RATING: 7.5/10 with room to grow on a rewatch.


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