Teen Spirit [Review]

It was almost the end of TIFF and it was definitely getting to me. I wasn’t sleeping that much, and I was still trying to work at the same time. I made it to the last two days of the festival, and I had at least 4 films left. It ended up being 5 because I grabbed a ticket to the People’s Choice Award winner. On Saturday, I had 3 movies to see and this was the last one of the day, and it started at 9:45. I was a bit amped due to Arianne’s glowing review as she caught it the week prior, but it was also a semi-late film and I was just hoping for something to keep me awake. If it were up to me, I would have walked back in to see it again after the film ended.

Max Minghella’s debut film is electrifying, it will shock you and your senses wide awake. It is warm, filled to the brim with emotions and so charming. It stars Elle Fanning as Violet, she is a quiet Polish girl living in the Isle of Wight, an island off the coast of England. She just wants to sing and spends some of her free time singing at a local bar. It’s clear her daily routine is school, work at the local pub that her mother works at as well before running to another bar to sing. And yes, it really is Elle singing. She eventually tries out for a local singing competition (think any of the American Idol or their spin-offs) called Teen Spirit. She befriends and is mentored by Vlad (Zlatko Buric) who used to be a professional Opera singer. It’s this friendship that is so sweet, it enriches the film in tenfold.

The film calls back to one of Elle’s previous film, a personal favourite, The Neon Demon. The visuals are similar, with the beautiful neon colours. This time cinematographer Autumn Durald who also shot Palo Alto helped make this film feel like a gorgeous dream. Which is also due to Cam McLauchlin edited the film expertly. From Kitchener here in Ontario, to be an associate editor for films like The Shape of Water. The film flows like one of your best dreams, and it’s edited beautifully to the mood and emotion, which makes all the performances move you to tears.

Let’s talk about the performances, they are absolutely exquisite. And more so, the musical performances and the productions. Violet has an excellent arc about her feeling comfortable. Some of the best things about the film are that it’s clear Violet isn’t doing this so she can be famous or “make it.” She’s doing this because she just wants to sing. And as someone who loves writing for the sake of it, and doesn’t care where they do it, the film spoke to me deeply. I’ve now seen the film twice and already have plans to see it once more before the weekend is over, so I beg and urge you that you should seek the film out as soon as you possibly can. I already am.