Stuart Murdoch, lead singer of Scottish indie band Belle and Sebastian, presents his directorial debut, God Help the Girl, a musical about a trio of youngsters spending a summer in Glasgow, making friends, having romances and finding their way in the world.
It’s a quirky and likeable film with characters and songs that are easy to warm to, but it exists on the margins and may only be reached by Belle andSeb fans during one of its event showings, accompanied by a band performance via satellite.
Emily Browning plays Eve, a manic depressive who’s been hospitalised, but dreams of a singing career. She escapes one night and goes to a gig at the Barrowland, where she befriends James (Olly Alexander). James invites his friend Cass (Hannah Murray) to join them for a sing-a-long and they form a band, singing and guitar-strumming around the streets of Glasgow.
As we get to know the characters, we get to hear new Belle and Sebastian material at the same time, which is full of melancholy and whimsy in equal measure. Although its plot feels a bit sanitised for any grim detail about depression, it’s otherwisevery honest and sincere filmmaking and songwriting.
It’s stylings are somewhere between Bill Forsyth and Jacques Demy, dressing up Eve in a beret and Breton stripes and giving the troop dance routines flattering theFrench new wave classics. Glasgow is made to look like a leafy Eden with boating lakes to canoe on and grand boulevards to dance along – having recently seen The Commonwealth Games, most people will know this not to be true.
However, although many people may label it self-indulgent, if you like the music then none of that will matter.
God Help the Girl is showing in UK cinemas from Aug 16, accompanied by a Belle and Sebastian performance via satellite in selected screenings.