Teen Spirit

Seventeen year old Violet (Elle Fanning) loves to sing. She spends every free moment listening to her iPod or singing. But since her father left Violet and her mother alone, Marla (Agnieszka Grochowska), on a small farm on Isle of Wight, she has very little free time. Each morning, she feeds and cares for the animals on the farm before she heads to school. After school and every weekend she waits tables. Each night secretly she heads to a bar to sing for extra money to help save the farm, but also to have a chance to sing. When she sees a billboard advertising Teen Spirit, a singing competition show, she sees an opportunity to do the one thing that brings her joy and also help get her a better life. The only problem is that she will have to do it without her mother finding out. Since she is under eighteen she has to convince someone to act as her guardian. She asks an old drunk at the bar, Vlad (Zlatko Buric), who loves her singing to go with her. She soon finds out that the disheveled looking old Vlad used to be a famous opera singer. When she finds out she makes it to the second round Vlad helps convince her mother that she should continue chasing her dream with his help. Even though Violet is going against much more experienced and refined competition she is focus on continuing to chase her dream and make it to the Finals in London.

Teen Spirit is the directorial debut for Max Minghella who also wrote the film (written also The 9th Life of Louis Drax, actor in TVs The Handmaid’s Tale). The story was familiar, a small town girl with big dreams and talent trying to overcome overwhelming odds to accomplish a goal. But it is told in a unique way and I would call it a fresh take on the “Cinderella” story. The visuals were unique and interesting. Most of the singing scenes, and not just Violet, were up close or focused on the singer with the background out of focus. It was an original and interesting way to visually tell the story. Elle Fanning does a good job as the protagonist. She is both bold and vulnerable in the film. Zlatko Buric did a marvelous job and brought some much needed light moments in an overall darker film. I thought the music was good but maybe not my cup of tea.

I thought that overall this was an enjoyable film. Not really something I would generally seek out to watch but was originally made and had interesting characters. It is the same old story though and minus some originality in how it gets through the story the outcome is predictable. My wife enjoyed it a little more than I did so it would be a good date movie. Personally worth a stream or rental but not really theater prices.


3 out of 5