It’s a quiet Friday and you’ve got the whole holiday weekend ahead of you, so why not start the proceedings on a light and airy musical note? We’ve got just the thing for that: an exclusive three-minute musical sequence from the new movie God Help the Girl (out September 5), written and directed by Belle and Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch and spun through with songs from his 2009 album of the same name.
One of the highlights of that record was “The Psychiatrist Is In,” and the knowing, witty song is the centerpiece of this scene, which finds Eve (Emily Browning) playing armchair analyst to her new friend James (Olly Alexander). The irony is that though she dons a lab coat for this number, Eve is actually playing hooky from the psychiatric institution where she’s being treated; a restless singer-songwriter, Eve would much rather be out on the town, forming a fledgling band with James, and pursuing the handsome, arrogant Anton (Pierre Boulanger).
This particular scene has an unusual provenance, Murdoch told Vulture today. “The phrase ‘The Psychiatrist Is In’ comes from Peanuts,” he said, “and I imagined Eve was sort of like Lucy to James’s Charlie Brown, someone who’s pushing him around and teasing him.” And as you’ll see, it works: James is utterly besotted by Eve, though she may not have any intent of returning his affections.
“That’s the crux of the musical, in a sense,” said Murdoch. “The audience is way ahead of them: They know James is going to fall head over heels for Eve, and they know that Eve’s obsessions are at a different place, and at this moment in the song, the singers say what the audience can already feel. They go back to normal after singing the song, and they’re almost deflated.”
And though we rarely break into a charming tune like this one when we’ve got something on our minds, Murdoch said the musical format, as used in this scene, has a pull that anyone can relate to. “It’s just like in real life,” he said. “Things like music or alcohol or a night out can be used to bond people together, and then the next day, they’re back to normal. They’re back in the office. A musical can have that same exhilarating sense of otherness that can take you to a different place. It lets you say the things you don’t normally say.”