This week in movies you missed:
Murray, Alexander and Browning play a musical threesome.
Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch creates a candy-colored, gorgeous-sounding musical drama that is high on angst and whimsy and low on plot.
What You Missed
Eve (Emily Browning) is a twentysomething compulsive songwriter undergoing treatment for anorexia at a mental hospital near Glasgow. On an illicit outing to a club in the city, she meets guitarist James (Olly Alexander), who's frustrated by the tendency of pop drummers to drown out his delicate vocals.
When Eve is released from the hospital, the pair teams up with the aimless Cassie (Hannah Murray, who played another memorable character named Cassie on the British "Skins"), and the three of them … do stuff.
"Stuff" includes wearing fetching thrift-shop ensembles, taking scenic outings by canoe and bike, debating whether all the "great pop songs" have already been recorded, and, eventually, recording a few songs of their own. When they're not engaging in dream-theater-style song-and-dance numbers, these kids are singing about their feelings in bathrooms and on bike paths.
Meanwhile, James pines for Eve, while Eve pines for a real music career. She hopes the cassette tape she asked her arrogant rocker sort-of-boyfriend (Pierre Boulanger) to give to a radio DJ will be her ticket to something better.
Why You Missed It
Written and directed by Murdoch, with songs from his album of the same name, God Help the Girl
premiered at Sundance in 2014 and played 59 U.S. theaters. It's now available on Amazon Prime, with a U.S. DVD release on April 14.
Seven Reasons to Keep Missing This Movie
This is kind of what our heroes do throughout the film. Look cute.
- You do not long for the music-driven whimsy fests of the 1960s, with plot and character development utterly subordinated to pretty sights and sounds.
- You are allergic to half-articulated thoughts and dulcet harmonies.
- Your attitude toward aimless, angsty twentysomethings roughly approximates "Get off my lawn!"
- You prefer movies where characters take decisive actions before the last 15 minutes. (Here, it's as if Murdoch woke up and realized he needed a conclusion.)
- You wonder why all the actresses in movies like this are twiggy with great skin. Don't not-pretty girls have problems, too?
- You're one of those literal people who doesn't like movies where people sing well-mixed numbers while strolling down noisy streets.
- You agree with the arrogant rocker's take-down of Eve: "Your words are depressing and self-centered. Your music is for children."
And … Seven Reasons Not to Miss This Movie
And … more posing in cute outfits.
- You do long for the music-driven whimsy fests of the 1960s, with plot and character development utterly subordinated to pretty sights and sounds.
- You're a Belle and Sebastian fan (obvs).
- You like when people in musicals actually sing instead of belting like pop stars, and you noticed that Emily Browning's singing was one of the few bright spots in Sucker Punch. (Confession: I own that soundtrack. I really like her vocals on the cover of "Where Is My Mind?")
- You love movies that recreate those achingly poignant periods in youth when everything seems both possible and impossible, and no one needs a reason to be elated or depressed, or both in rapid succession.
- You're interested in seeing a non-preachy film with a Christian perspective. (God Help the Girl has autobiographical elements, with Eve experiencing a spiritual transformation akin to events in Murdoch's life. It floats the notion that her musical talent is literally God given, but does not promote anything remotely like an evangelical lifestyle.)
- You like bittersweet stories about talented people who are too sensitive for their own good.
- You are sixteen and need a movie to build a cult around, complete with soundtrack and outfits to replicate.
Murray doesn't get enough to do as Cassie.
Verdict: God Help the Girl
is lovely visual and musical wallpaper, but for me, there just wasn't enough there there. While Murdoch's script had cutting, insightful, even funny moments, I wanted more of them.
But this is one of those earnest, uncynical artistic endeavors that either speaks directly to the viewer or doesn't, so others will surely disagree.
This Week in Theaters
In the latest family flick from DreamWorks, an alien gets Rhianna's help to find his way Home
(I think?). Meanwhile, in Get Hard
, Will Ferrell plays a millionaire who makes the mistake of assuming Kevin Hart can teach him how to survive San Quentin.
a girl who makes the mistake of hooking up with the wrong guy, and if you want to know what "it" is, head to the Roxy for David Robert Mitchell's indie horror flick. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence play dress-up in the long-delayed Depression-era drama Serena
, at the Roxy and Capitol.
This Week in Your Living Room
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Into the Woods, Unbroken