I had never heard of Belle and Sebastian before seeing the preview for this movie and I’m not particularly fond of musicals. I wanted to see it based on one line in the preview: “God help the girl she needs all the help she can get.” I am going through a lot right now. Change, loss, uncertainty all things I have spent my life being super bad at handling so in other words this seemed like the type of story and spectacle I could use right about now.
Emily Browning plays Eve a troubled young girl who busts out of a psychiatric ward and spends the summer making friends and starting a band. She dreams of becoming a singer and she’s pretty good (plus Emily Browning is really one of those watchable actors that I find myself staring at even when they aren’t the center of a scene.) Hannah Murray and Olly Alexander are a great supporting cast but the film takes a while to get interesting and I found it hard to actually connect with it emotionally.
(Spoilers included below.)
There are some scenes near the end where you can tell Eve is in real pain and that all the rest of her life is just an act but in terms of the emotional stuff it’s no deeper. She’s the center but she’s very much detached. She winds up back in the hospital and has an epiphany and just gets better and moves on. There’s not much else to it. I got the feeling that even her friends looked at her as a cipher and a muse to kick start their lives but nothing more. There was also a romance with another singer that I felt was so tacked on I’m not even sure why they bothered or if I should even call it a romance. Pretty much went nowhere but the bedroom and nowhere afterward.
The film was directed by Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian so not surprisingly the music and the ambiance were the best part for me. And the music worked. It was what I needed. Great numbers include (for me) a dance hall spectacle “I’ll Have to Dance with Cassie,” where everyone including Eve just seems to come alive with the song and the dancing and seemed to be having real fun for the first time. The last number at the end “A Down and Dusky Blonde,” was also a favorite.
So would I recommend it? Definitely if you already familiar with Murdoch and the type of music this involves. If you aren’t familiar with the work I guess just take it for what it is- a fun cast, great music, great costumes (seriously Eve and Hannah are just adorable throughout) and a couple of funny lines but not a whole lot beneath the bubbly surface. It made me want to check out some Belle and Sebastian and it did help while I was watching but it’s just not one of those movies that are going to stay me long after viewing.