Elle Fanning is one of Hollywood's best young talents, but she can't sing her way out of the uneven "Teen Spirit."
In a recent interview, Elle Fanning said she had always dreamed of becoming a pop star. She gets her chance in the new indy drama, "Teen Spirit," in which she plays an unhappy teenager who finds fame after she wins an "American Idol"-style singing contest called "Teen Spirit." The problem is, whenever her character, Violet, is off-stage, the movie might as well go to commercial.
This is a first-time writing/directing effort from actor Max Minghella, son of the Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella ("The English Patient," "Cold Mountain"). Max has a problem establishing a believable universe for "Teen Spirit" to exist in...he wants it to be a gritty indy film, but then it becomes something else completely whenever it segues into its music-video montages (in which there are many). The result is a bit jarring. Also, the character of Violet is so off-putting, so brooding, so...cold (at one point, she tells us that she doesn't believe that love is a real thing), that it's hard to believe she'd have what it takes to be a believable performer. Isn't connecting with some inner passion or revealing one's soul the real magic in any performance art?
Elle Fanning does make the film watchable, and she's building quite the filmography for herself with bold, unexpected choices in roles. But "Teen Spirit" doesn't quite achieve the same heights as the rising star story recently seen in "A Star Is Born." In that film, the main character's rise to stardom took a backseat to a more personal story happening out of the spotlight. "Teen Spirit" would have benefited greatly from choreographing some interesting background color to fill in the empty spaces, instead of solely focusing on the character at center-stage.
Genre: Drama, Music
Run Time: 1 hour 32 minutes
Starring: Elle Fanning, Agnieszka Grochowska, Zlatko Buric, Olive Gray, Archie Madekwe, Rebecca Hall
Written and Directed by Max Minghella (directorial debut)
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