God Help the Girl (2014)

Drama, Musical, Romance
Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger
As Eve begins writing songs as a way to sort through some emotional problems, she meets James and Cassie, two musicians each at crossroads of their own.
While it may strike harder-hearted viewers as excessively twee, God Help the Girl floats by on its sweet charm and talented cast.
  • Amplify Company:
  • Unrated Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 05 Sep 2014 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • $0.1M Box office:


As the summer of 2014 comes to an end, one last coming of age story is released to top the season off.8/10
After Plush, I must admit the idea of Emily Browning playing the role of a musician wasn't a horrible idea. Especially since Skins alumni Hannah Murrah and Olly Alexander are in it. Though with God Help the Girl not having original music, but that of Stuart Murdoch's past work, it does lead you to question if whether this would become another Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart or Sunshine on Leith?

Characters & Story

A young girl, a few years out of high school, named Eve (Emily Browning) we meet as she is recovering from anorexia. She seems friendless, her parents never visit, and what lead to her having anorexia isn't explored too much. However, as she recovers she finds she has a talent for writing music. So, upon one of her escapes from the hospital, she asks this singer named Anton (Pierre Boulanger) to give her music to this local DJ.

But while her first demo is surely something interesting, it is the music she makes with sort of failed musician James (Olly Alexander) and Cass (Hannah Murray) which is what the film focuses on. For as James and Eve grow close, and Cass is invited along for the ride, you get a nice fluffy film in which we listen to songs dealing with everyday life sometimes spiced with what the members of the cast are going through. All the while, James falls in love with Eve and she finds him to be the one who helps establish the foundation she needs to perhaps pursue music officially. However, when the summer is over, and with Eve feeling well enough to go to college, will their friendship, band, and possible romance end, or is what we see only just the beginning?


There is so much worth praising in the film. Whether it is things like the costume design, the cute choreography during the songs, or even the songs themselves, there is so much to cover before even talking about the story. Now, to begin with the attire, most of the clothes seem straight out of a Skins episode and really help push the idea that God Help The Girl is a cute little indie band which has a few quirks and a huge reason to be desirable. For while, officially, they only perform one show in the movie, throughout the film we get to see them do almost mini-music videos which show off their quirky style and are choreographed in such a way which will likely remind you of some indie pop group you found out about in your teens which you used to, or still do, obsess over.

Then, when it comes to the songs, I must admit I only liked around 85% of the soundtrack. And while some songs aren't loved right off the bat, they do grow on you and the film has a nice progression where most of the 15% which I didn't think were good were only in the beginning. Making it feel that as Eve became a better song writer and the band became a more cohesive unit, you witness the songs becoming better and better.

Leaving the story for the last bit of praise. Now, despite Eve dealing with anorexia, there isn't a heavy handed approach to the subject matter. It is more treated as a private struggle than something all consuming. Which isn't to say they make light of the matter, nor is it not a struggle for her featured throughout the film, but what I wish to say is that it isn't the sole thing noted about her character. If anything, it is what helps push her out of her hospital bed and into meeting James and eventually Cass. And with Eve and James' relationship, there are so many cute moments which truly make you swoon, giggle and so badly hope they last forever. Also, to my surprise, while there is quirkiness, and a cute little romance, there are also multiple moments which will make you laugh. Not as much as if this movie was a comedy, but enough to keep you smiling between songs.


When it comes to issues with the film, honestly the sole issue I can find is that it feels like we don't get to know the past of any of the characters that well. We get little tidbits of information so that we know they didn't just appear out of thin air, but with Eve having anorexia, and seemingly having quite a life before we met her, it does make you curious to learn more of her back story. Then, as for James and Cass, I wanted to learn more about them since both of their lives, outside of anything dealing with Eve, isn't explored. To the point where honestly you end up feeling like you barely got to know them at all.

Overall: Worth Seeing

It seems less and less that I watch something Worth Seeing. However, God Help The Girl is definitely a worth seeing film, though admittedly I thought it would be TV Viewing at first. But with it getting better over time, honestly I am left hoping there is a sequel as much as I wish this was a mini-series. Especially since the main negative thing about the film is that we don't get to know much about the characters' lives before the band, and hardly get to know James and Cass at all. Though with good music, an overall cute story, and it leaving you wanting more, the little bit of negatives certainly don't outweigh the positives. Leading me to say that you should certainly see God Help The Girl, perhaps buy the soundtrack, and definitely share it with your friends!
I liked it10/10
Having read the reviews, I wasn't really sure what to expect when I began seeing GHTG. I should say that I have been a B&S fan since 1997 or 1998 when I discovered "If you're feeling sinister" and I have all their releases up until 1998 as well as the debut album of Gentle Waves. Their music has really influenced me as a person and I really was curious of what a film based on their songs would look like.

I felt happy watching GHTG but it was also really emotional. Being in my mid-30s it reminded me of my dreams as a teenager and I began asking myself if there's still time to accomplish them. I strongly identified with the character of James and his search for the perfect moment, which makes it impossible to enjoy life. I recognized Eve in the many talented, self-destructive, impulsive people I have met in my life and all the opportunities I had to make my life a little more interesting.

GHTG is full of color. The characters dress up in all kinds of costumes, and yes it is unrealistic but I think what many fail to realize is that our fondest memories are usually very different than what we really experienced. Everything is more colorful and stylish in our memories, like a Belle and Sebastian album cover.

I had read that there is no plot to the movie, but I don't agree at all. I think both Eve and James are wonderfully developed characters and Cassie is also an interesting character whose presence makes the story better. And the music is also wonderful. I was very pleased with Emily Browning's singing performance. She not only has a great voice but she also seemed to be really invested in the songs which made her character more believable.

I loved the film's bittersweet ending as well as the many funny and awkward moments (James fighting his drummer, James and Eve showing up at Cassie's house or the drunk Scottish boys whose accent Cassie couldn't understand). This may not be a film for everyone, but I think the world would be a better place if more people listened to Belle & Sebastian and all I can do is thank Stuart Murdoch, the actors and everyone else involved in making this film.
If you didn't appreciate it for what it is, you probably had no business watching it9/10
I remember back in 2008 when I stumbled across the God Help the Girl album. A huge B&S fan, it was recommended by the I Tunes bot, and while i usually pass on those, I couln't help but be intrigued by a musical with music by Stuart Murdoch.

Loved the album, couldn't wait for the movie, though at the time, details were sketchy at best. As years past, the album remained a mainstay on my pod rotation, but I'd essentially forgotten that it was intended as a soundtrack to something.

Then a few months back, I came across the God Help the Girl, the actual soundtrack, and found that it was finally coming out. I knew it was a small Indie movie, and it would be a while before I got to see it, and I expected that. Then last night, the Gods of awesome smiled upon me when my wife told me that it was On Demand in the In Theatres section. And all was well.

Anyway, to the movie. Again, it is what I expected. To some up the story, such as it is, you only need two words; hipsters and music. It is all shot in very retro fashion, and nails that part. Like the Beatles movies of the 1960s, the story is essentially a vehicle to travel from song to song, most of which are essentially music videos, and shot as such. And again, knowing what to expect, that's wonderful. What's even better is that the actors are well aware of this. Emily Browning may mot be Jennifer Lawrence in terms of name recognition, but she's a bigger name than I would have expected here, and effortlessly believable.

The only blemish is that some of the songs feel shoehorned in. Act of the Apostle (which is actually Act of the Apostle II in the B&S catalogue,) feels random and out of place as an opening number. Again, such is the nature of this type of film, but this one feels like they just wanted to eek i in, so used it as an opening number. Also, the title song, as well as my favorite, Perfection as a Hipster are not done justice, especially the later, which plays softly in the background via the radio, though be it in an appropriate scene.

All and all, like the afore mentioned Beatles films, this ones about the music. While the acting's wonderful, the story isn't going to reel you in. My recommendation is to listen to the music first, be it the 2008 studio album or the movie soundtrack. Or both. If you like the music, watch the movie. If not, you'll probably be, dare I say...bored out of your mind.
Light story and easy listening songs combination6/10
The story focuses on Eve, a girl in Glasgow, Scotland, who's on medication for some emotional caused eating disorders. She like to write songs, which is her own way to cope with her problems. Sometimes she sneaks out and go to live music clubs, where one night she meets James, an aspiring musician. Later James introduces her to Cassie, James' guitar pupil, and they form a band. Before meeting Cassie, Eve also starts a romance with Anton but she doesn't introduce him to James and Cassie. One day the band gets a gig scheduled. At the time they are discussing it, Anton comes and Eve goes with him.

Turns out, Anton didn't do what Eve asked him on the day they first meet. When she goes back to James, he gets awkward and kind of avoids her. Without Cassie, Eve then went without direction and gets sick again. James visits her and they reconcile. After giving her songs for Cassie to sing in the band, she goes to James' place asking his opinion about her going to college. He objects to it, but after the band's one last performance with Eve I it, James accompanies Eve as she takes the train to her college life.

The story is based on the director Stuart Murdoch's real life music project with the same title. An indie band Belle and Sebastian leader himself, he created the project having female vocalists and his band on the instruments. The story may be a sugar coated fiction about the real project's female vocalists, but at least it's not hyperbolic ally done. Yes the movie does end up showing scenes of music writing, the usual element of a movie about music, especially indie musicians.

We may see the more realistic, even not seldom full of conflicts, creative stages of music writing in Frank (2014), but this movie doesn't really overdo it. We are presented with the just right blend of realistic and musical interpretation of the creative process scenes. The story feels so light that it may bore some people who seek more conflicts in the movie or stronger depiction in the screenplay. But the movie kept me watching due to curiosity on what will happen to the band; will it be a cliche about being famous, they break up, or what?

The music has some pretty good hum along songs. Well, they are even better to sing along if we know the lyrics. The songs are very easy listening in nature that they don't bore people with them. The amount of dancing done for each song is just enough that they help how the songs feel yet they don't make it feel that much like any standard musical does. The actors, especially Emily Browning in the lead role, can really get the feel on lip-syncing those songs.

The acting just a decent okay overall for me. Emily Browning is successful in her lead role here, utilizing just enough facial expressions to maintain her ill character while doing the lip-syncs energetically. Olly Alexander did enough to give the story some balance and keep the romance going, even at the discreet rate at the earlier stages of the movie. Hannah Murray gets into the cheerful nature of her character nicely. I like how she did the canoe scenes and the scene where Eve and James asks her to go out as just wakes up. Pierre Boulanger nicely kept the cam composure of a confident band vocalist, and especially it gets better with his accent.

One thing worth mentioning is the great job done in the costume designs. I like how the costumes are always eye catching for all the scenes, both in the designs and color matching. The costumes really puts the camera's focus onto the characters as they help attract the viewers' eyes.

My say for God Help The Girl (2014) is a solid 6 out of 10. A light story combined with nice easy listening songs is quite a nice recipe combination for this movie.
Belle and Sebastian, the movie6/10
There was a lot to like about God Help the Girl but despite a few good individual scenes, but it didn't flow together as a story that well. Maybe writer/director Stuart Murdoch needed more creative feedback and better editors than he got. Certain scenes and characters just show up out of nowhere with little connection to the rest of the story, like the WTF scene of Eve going on a bender with some girl we never see before or since. The main character of Eve was weakly written. Her past and her motivations were vague. The movie would have been far better with James and Cassie as main characters and Eve as a side character.

You could see God Help The Girl as a culmination of Belle & Sebastian's (a band named after a fictional band that Murdoch's songwriting centered on) characters and themes spanning their nearly 20 years as a band. James, Cassie and Eve seem derived from the archetypal characters from B&S's songs. The movie though develops them in a shallow and haphazard way that doesn't really do justice to the insights and characters brilliantly explored in the individual songs. I think Murdoch could make a good movie, but God Help The Girl was just so-so. The music was excellent at least.