• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Glasgow Girl

Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, and hannah Murray
Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, and hannah Murray

Let’s keep the movies about female musicians, shall we? Yes to 20 Feet from Stardom; yes to Begin Again; a hearty punk-rock yowl of approval to We Are the Best! And a quieter, more introspective yes to God Help the Girl, a whimsical, fey, intimate movie about music, friendship and moving forward. 

Eve (Emily Browning) bursts into quiet song the minute she’s slipped out the window of an unidentified Glasgow hospital. Writer-director Stuart Murdoch (of the Scottish band Belle and Sebastian) has it both ways: Characters narrate their thoughts both in song and speech, and sometimes they talk about musically narrating their lives. It’s a little bit of everything, a stylistic mash-up that suits the slim little story and its uncertain characters, who traipse around a Glasgow that looks almost magical.

At a show, Eve meets the bespectacled James (Olly Alexander), who takes a tired and weak Eve home to give her somewhere to crash. His band has had a meltdown, and Eve slips neatly into the musical space in his life. Add Cassie (Hannah Murray, barely recognizable as Game of Thrones’ Gilly), a lovable rich girl with more enthusiasm than songwriting skill, and a passel of session musicians and you have a band not entirely unlike Belle and Sebastian: many players singing detailed, charming songs. 

Eve’s illness gets in the way of her success, to a point, but it’s presented as a piece of Eve’s whole, not the sole thing that defines her. Like her flawed relationship with charismatic pop star boys (Pierre Boulanger is perfect as the too-suave Anton), it’s something she uses music to work through, quietly, on her own terms. 

God Help the Girl is a sleepy, autumnal sort of movie, the kind of thing you watch under a thick blanket on a rainy Sunday when you can pause for hot chocolate; it’s a little long and occasionally so self-contained you almost have to will your way back into its little bubble world. 

It’s also a much-needed story about a young woman taking her own messy life into her own imperfect hands and making art out of it, warts and all.