3 young people living in Scotland joined together by their love of music and whimsy. Eve (Emily Browning) has mental health problems and writes songs to escape to a different world. She meets James (Olly Alexander) who is a guitarist and unlikely lifeguard. Together they use music to work through the trials of being early twenty-somethings. They hook up with schoolgirl Cassie (Hannah Murray) and form a band “God Help the Girl”.
Set over one summer this is a musical film in all senses of the word. Every few scenes Eve usually breaks out into another whimsical song – sometimes appearing in an Indy video setting sometimes just wondering around looking fey in the streets.
This is a film for teenagers or those who feel stuck in that melancholy shoegazing world. It’s not a bad film but it’s far too droll and knowing for grown-ups. The non-Scottish poshness of the 3 leads felt out of place for the Glasgow setting. In one scene they refer to the locals as Neds which makes heir introverted self-obsessed characters even less likable; I did wonder why it was set in Glasgow at all. The opportunity to deal in a realistic way with mental illness was forsaken in order to shoehorn in as many whimsy tunes as possible which was a pity as it would have made for a stronger connection to the lead.
Luckily Emily Browning is ridiculously pretty and can sing and Olly Alexander handles the dialogue well. This is sort of an extended musical video and it will appeal to teenagers who find Glee a bit too saccharine but like the concept. As a debut feature its reach exceeds its grasp but as an ambitious idea it deserves some recognition.