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God Help The Girl & Belle and Sebastian Live By Satellite (15)

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 18th Aug 2014 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

The Dukes, Lancaster

Saturday, 16 August

“You don’t make a band, a band makes you. It picks you up and sweeps you along,” says James, as he lies in the grass with fellow musicians Eve and Cassie.

God Help The Girl

And this is exactly what Stuart Murdoch’s film Gold Help the Girl does, taking you on a musical journey through Glasgow with Eve as she overcomes anorexia and forms her own band.

Belle and Sebastian frontman Murdoch’s directorial debut won him awards at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and The Dukes was one of 77 UK cinemas to screen the film in tandem with the Edinburgh premiere on Saturday night.

This was followed by a live satellite performance by Belle and Sebastian and the film cast, with audiences treated to a performance by Catherine Ireton as Eve. Sadly the film’s heroine was unable to perform, which was a shame as Australian actress Emily Browning is captivating from the start.

She opens the film by breaking the fourth wall and into song to tell her story through the tracks of Belle and Sebastian’s 2009 album, Gold Help the Girl.

The Glasgow location and flashes of Blondie in the background establish the Indie-Pop feel, as Eve draws you into her troubled world, beginning with a brief escape from rehab when she meets James (Olly Alexander) and his “pupil” Cassie (Hannah Murray).

As Eve works her way up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to reach the goal of “art, morality and music” set by her therapist, James and Cassie take on supporting roles in her songs and coming of age.

James is the stereotypical boy that a beautiful girl depends on but will never fancy. Cassie is the quirky posh girl for whom the idea of forming a band is a welcome escape from convention. And Eve is the one who will eventually leave them behind and go on to stardom.

The ups and downs include a fun 60s pop jam at a social club; Eve’s overdose as she struggles to believe in a happy ending; and the trio’s search for a guitarist and a name for their band. The latter providing an enlightening education into the meaning of Pearl Jam and 10cc.(Google it).

The two characters who propel Eve back and forward include love interest Anton, who dismisses her songs as depressing and self indulgent, and the hairdresser and healer who assures her she will be somebody important one day.

Eve battles to beat her demons and continues to write her feelings down, like her therapist told her to, and as the time lapse photography reflects the change in season, so Eve leaves her friends behind to start a new life at music school

Meanwhile James reflects on the “greatness that happened that summer”, and speaks for many a group of friends who have formed a close alliance before life disbands them, when he ponders: “For a moment we were all in the right place and the possibilities were infinite.”

For me, the outstanding moment was the rendition of the upbeat Musician, Please Take Heed, and the lyrics: “I made a daisy chain from phrase, verse, and punctuation.” This line epitomises the charm of God Help the Girl. Yes it’s disjointed at times, and there are some blips in continuity, however Stuart Murdoch’s compilation of insightful scenes interspersed with song is a characterful daisy chain in itself, which I’m sure many an angst-ridden teen can identify with.

As for self indulgent? Maybe, but I guess that’s the essence of the story – a talented but troubled girl’s recovery through introspection and a musical rite of passage.

God Help the Girl will be released in UK cinemas on August 22.

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