Teen Spirit Review - Charming Cinderella Story Inspires

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Teen Spirit, from Bleecker Street Films and Interscope, brings to the screen the Cinderella story of every singing contestant hopeful who believe that one audition will lead to that golden ticket and a chance at destiny.

Directed and written by Max Minghella, Teen Spirit stars Elle Fanning, Zlatko Buric, Agnieszka Grochowska, Archie Madekwe, Olive Gray, Clara Rugaard, Rebecca Hall, Daisy Lowe and Ruairi O’Connor.

The film opens with a collage of what appears to be a mundane life, as Violet, played by Elle Fanning, tends to the chores on a farm carrying bales of hay, feeding the animals, selling eggs at a local farmers market, always plugged in to an I-pod as she mutes the life that stifles her.


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The next scene we see her singing in a darkened, out of the way, nowhere club. By now we understand she is very shy, introverted and lives in a world, fed to her through her music, that no one is privileged or invited into.

The sparse audience of about six, who, except for one whose table is filled with a couple of empty rock glasses and an ashtray, can’t remember when one act ends and the next begins. Just as Violet is leaving, Vlad, played by Zlatko Buric, stops her explaining that she has a good voice, needs work, but a good voice and offers to drive her home.

She turns him down and shuts him out. Waiting for the bus, four guys appear on the road and scare her. Looking down the road at the approaching trouble and back at the offer, soon she is riding with Vlad who tries to explain she has a good voice and he could train her.

The next day we see Teen Spirit signs as she rides the bus to school. Sitting with a group of girls, we hear the entire story of Teen Spirit, Britain’s hottest teen singing contest, has given many hopefuls their shot at international stardom.


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For the first time ever, they are coming to this out of the way island, off the coast, and auditioning local talent. Everyone is going. The pre-audition day is grueling and the popular girls, the expected winners, are out and it comes down to the next day. Our Violet make it through and needs a parent or guardian’s permission.

Her mother, Marla, played by Agnieszaka Grochowska, a Christian, who insists if Violet wants to sing the church choir will be fine. Not wanting her to be disappointed she clips her wings a little every day even as Violet works to build her dreams. Knowing she’ll never give her permission she returns to Vlad, who agrees to be her guardian in exchange for 50% of the earnings and manager, if she wins.

With Vlad as her “Uncle” she arrives at the audition. The Russian PA recognizes him which is when we find out he is a famous Russian Opera singer who met with hard times.

The Cinderella story ends early or does it as our Violet places second. With her hopes dashed she retreats when sorrow shows up one more time and her beloved horse is sold. With bill collectors telephoning and showing up, the future looks bleak when the phone rings and Teen Spirit is calling inviting her to London.


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This is where Teen Spirit and the film shift into overdrive and our Violet is taken from her single focused and maneuverable surroundings and is suddenly dropped into the life she has always dreamed about living. Will the offerings destroy her?

Teen Spirit is a feel-good charming Cinderella story filled with contemporary obstacles and choices that most face as they pursue their dreams. The fish out of water suddenly in the big-time celebrity life is as much a tease as a test.

The supporting cast, most of which are newcomers at least to American audiences, provide genuine, believable performances.

Zlatko Buric, who may not be known by name is certainly memorable by face for his performances at the Russian billionaire in Roland Emmerich’s disaster film 2012 and the Serbia Drug Dealer in the 2012 British film Pusher. He gives another solid performance as the hard drinking, smoking, wanting to disappear has been.

Agnieszka Grochowska, a Polish actress, stands out in each scene opposite Ms. Fanning.


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Rebecca Hall also delivers on her crisp Teen Spirit executive, tantalizing all with the deals of a lifetime.

Elle Fanning plays the role effortlessly as she transforms from shy, introverted, country girl to Teen Spirit contestant with stars in her eyes and heart. She plays the role with such authority that I found myself engaged in the drama as she loses her direction, swallowed up by the BIG life, and for a moment becomes her worst enemy.

Teen Spirit, engaging, charming, and dramatic, opens April 12, 2019. See it.

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