Teen Spirit is an uplifting contemporary musical that will be a hit with its teenage crowd. The swooning camera work, the boosted colour palette, and its covers of catchy electro-pop tunes are all advantageous qualities towards the film’s pep.
As a cinephile, however, Teen Spirit was a film that had to work on me. It’s enjoyable, but the narrative is surprisingly straight and formulaic with few tricks in terms of story twists. Also, for being about how a poor Polish teenager has her life changed by a popular British reality gameshow, the film is light on cynicism; actually giving movie goers optimistic ideas about reaching for far-out aspirations using shallow methods. That’s okay and, by no means, should writer/director Max Minghella get in trouble for keeping Teen Spirit simple.
It takes a vibrant movie like Teen Spirit to remind jaded movie goers that unchallenging movies can still be of fine quality. With his directorial debut, Max Minghella isn’t trying to satirize or be moralistic. Instead, the filmmaker attempts and succeeds in capturing that feeling of split-second ecstasy (such as when someone hears a new favourite song), and maintaining that energy for the entirety of a feature film. Certainly Elle Fanning’s versatile performance as young singer Violet lends to this sunny charm, as well as Zlatko Buric’s beguiling turn as a lonely barfly who does everything he can to inspire Violet’s road to success. But overall, it’s Minghella’s direction that puts us under a spell.
The movie may feel like a super-slick extended music video, but Teen Spirit gets away with its style by finding longevity in its own euphoria.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie