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"God Help the Girl": Belle and Sebastian (the Band), the Movie 

Tuesday, Sep 9 2014

Written and directed by Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch, God Help the Girl is as emo as you'd expect from a musical by the Belle & Sebastian guy. But that's a good thing, and it's also kind of brilliant. Eve (Emily Browning), a young woman who's been in and out of Glasgow psyche wards, finds the only way she can properly express herself is through songwriting. She decides to form a pop group with her new friends James (Olly Alexander) and Cassie (Hannah Murray), but they have different ideas about what they want from music. Characters sing into the camera and break into dance, but even the most elaborate numbers are relatively low-key; the biggest leap into fantasy may well be when Cassie puts on flawless Ziggy Stardust makeup by herself. (It ain't easy.) The picture also works as a corrective to Zach Snyder's Sucker Punch, which similarly featured Browning as a young woman using fantasy to deal with being in a mental institution — but unlike Snyder's "girls dressing sexy and shooting guns = EMPOWERMENT" masturbatory fantasy, Murdoch's God Help the Girl doesn't make you hate yourself or the world. And while Girl's second-act showstopper "Musician, Please Take Heed" probably won't become a "Let It Go"-level cultural phenomenon, it very much deserves to be.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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