Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsSXSW 2019: Teen Spirit Review

Keith NoakesMarch 12, 2019

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s SXSW Film Festival, to keep up with our latest coverage, click here.

Synopsis: Violet is a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Driven by a pop-fueled soundtrack, Teen Spirit is a visceral and stylish spin on the Cinderella story. (Bleecker Street)

Starring: Elle Fanning, Zlatko Buric, and Rebecca Hall

Writer: Max Minghella

Director: Max Minghella

Rating: PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 92mins


Much in the vein of Wild RoseTeen Spirit is another film about another young female singer looking to overcome her environment and pursue her dreams. Unlike the former, this film goes the pop route. The story here was about a 17-year-old girl with named Violet (Fanning). She had aspirations to become a singer but she was being held back by her family and her environment. Enlisting the help of a former opera singer named Vlad (Buric), Violet would enter a singing competition called Teen Spirit.

Violet was passionate but she was relatively inexperienced when it came to singing. Vlad would assume the role of her mentor and helped her grow as a singer. However, her time in the limelight while competing on Teen Spirit would test her as both a singer and as a person. While the story and Violet’s trajectory were mostly predictable, she was still somewhat compelling to watch. The best part of the film was Violet’s energetic performances. They were entertaining to watch and stylishly shot. The cinematography as a whole was stylish though some scenes were a little too dark.

Ultimately, the film, for the most part, would not have worked if not for Fanning and her performance as Violet. Firstly, she can definitely sing and was somewhat compelling to watch while giving a nuanced performance. While the musical performances were great, the story in between had plenty of heart though wasn’t as interesting and needed more depth. However, Fanning’s great chemistry with Buric’s Vlad at least made these moments bearable.

Overall, Teen Spirit is a dynamic and stylish musical drama with plenty of heart in spite of its familiar nature and lack of depth. The musical performances were great but the story in between wasn’t as strong. Ultimately when it’s going, it’s really going though regardless of that, Elle Fanning’s performance elevates it and she can definitely sing.

Score: 7.5/10

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