This is less a movie than it is a concept album made manifest. There is a story, a somewhat powerful one at that, though it is buried in the conceit of “life as a pop tune” with accompanying music and songs. Given that this was by writer/director Murdoch, best known for his work in Belle and Sebastian, the result isn’t too surprising.
The songs themselves are probably good reflections of what the characters were capable of, but not exactly the ground-breaking ideal they wanted to achieve. From a story point of view, a good idea, but not as much fun for a viewer. The tunes are good, but the lyrics are a structure-less mess most of the time. Given that Murdoch consciously references Hard Days Night, and a few other well-known moments, that lack of artistic spark for his characters becomes hard to swallow, even if they are fun.
The summer of discovery plot follows, primarily, two aspiring artists. Browning (Pompeii) and Alexander (Skins) form the spine of the story, helping one another and dancing around a tense attraction. They’re both very engaging and sympathetic, even when making their biggest mistakes as characters. Murray (Game of Thrones), on the other hand, was less of a solid choice for me. Her singing isn’t quite good enough and her energy fought the rest of the story. But, to be fair, the fault is as much her portion of the script, which is mostly bolt-on in an effort to expand the script to feature-length.
As a side-note, God Help the Girl is another in a long line of films funded, in part, by Kickstarter. No one wanted to make the film till the Kickstarter response (and money) came in. While I think Browning and Alexander got an opportunity they would have otherwise missed because of this (as did Murdoch), what was delivered was very much a first time filmmaker’s output. It was uneven, quirky, unique in many ways, and ultimately not quite satisfying. Still, it will resonate for some and for those that truly enjoy Murdoch’s particular corner of the art world. And, perhaps, that is what Kickstarter is for. Whether that is what your evening is for is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.