Elle Fanning Stars as Aspiring Singer in Coming of Age Drama
Violet Valenski (Elle Faning) is a 17-year-old living with her single mom (Agnieszka Grochowska) on a modest family farm on the Isle of Wight. She secretly dreams of becoming a pop star, but has no time to pursue it between school and several part-time jobs. Besides attending to animals at home, she waitresses at a pub and clerks at a convenience store.
Violet’s fortunes change the day that the producers of ‘Teen Spirit’ visit town in search of the next singing sensation. ‘Teen Spirit’ is a reality TV series similar to ‘American Idol,’ ‘The X Factor,’ and other talent competitions.
Violet’s very eager to audition, but can only participate if her disapproving mother signs the release form. It looks like the end of the line when momma refuses to do so, until an unlikely knight in shining armor arrives in Vlad (Zlatko Buric), a fan who has seen her perform in a local bar on open mic nights.
Turns out Vlad, a former opera singer, is eager not only to train Violet’s voice, but to serve as her guardian. And over the ensuing weeks, we watch as a diamond in the rough blossoms into a world-class talent.
Thus unfolds Teen Spirit, a coming of age tale directed by Max Minghella. The uplifting, overcoming-the-odds adventure borrows elements from many a classic of the genre, ranging from Cinderella to The Karate Kid. It even goes so far as to include the theme from Flashdance on the soundtrack.
Shamelessly derivative, but still manages to tug on your heartstrings!
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for suggestive content, and for underage smoking and drinking
Running time: 92 minutes
Production Companies: Interscope Films / Automatik Entertainment / Blank Tape
Distributor: Bleecker Street Media / LD Entertainment
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening May 3, 2019
Bolden (R for sexuality, graphic nudity, profanity, ethnic slurs, brutal violence, and drug use) Gary Carr plays the title character in this surreal biopic of cornetist Buddy Bolden, who played a key role in the development of jazz in New Orleans. With Ian McShane, Michael Rooker, and Yaya DaCosta, and featuring compositions and performances by Wynton Marsalis.
El Chicano (R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity). Crime drama about an LAPD detective (Raul Castillo) who goes rogue to avenge his twin brother’s murder at the hands of a viscous drug cartel. With Aimee Garcia, Sal Lopez, and David Castaneda.
The Intruder (PG-13 for violence, terror, sexuality, profanity, and mature themes). Suspense thriller about a young married couple (Megan Good and Michael Ealy) who buy their dream home only to discover that the deranged seller (Dennis Quaid) won’t leave the property. Supporting cast includes Alvin August, Lili Sepe, and Joseph Sikora.
Longshot (R for graphic sexuality, racist profanity, and drug use). Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen co-star in this romantic comedy about a free-spirited journalist who falls for one of the most powerful women in the world. With Ice Cube, Andy Serkis, and Ravi Patel.
UglyDolls (PG for action and mature themes). Animated musical comedy based on the plush toys of the same name finds the ostracized underdogs embarking on an epic journey during which they discover that you don’t have to be perfect to be amazing or loved. Voice cast includes Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monáe, and Pitbull.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
Ask Doctor Ruth (Unrated) Reverential retrospective chronicling the career of Holocaust survivor-turned-celebrated sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
Meeting Gorbachev (Unrated) Cold War biopic about the life of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union. Featuring archived footage of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (In English, Russian, German, and Polish with subtitles)
Clara (Unrated) Sci-fi thriller about an obsessive astronomer (Patrick J. Adams) and a curious artist (Troian Bellisario) who forge an unlikely friendship leading to a profound scientific discovery. With Will Bowes, Jennifer Dale, and Ennis Esmer.
Non-Fiction (R for profanity, sexuality, and nudity) Romantic dramedy set in Paris, revolving around an editor (Guillaume Canet) and an author (Vincent Macaigne) coping with mid-life crises. Supporting cast includes Juliet Binoche, Christa Theret, and Nora Hamzawi (in French with subtitles)