“Be careful what you wish for” and “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” are some of the oldest sayings out there and they are statements that never fail the test of time. It is pretty safe to say that there is a surplus of people who are obsessed with fame and will do anything to get it. People tend to idolize other’s fame and wish to emulate that popularity. The problem is, nine times out of ten, you basically have to sell your soul to get what you think you want. Now that doesn’t mean in the literal sense of selling one’s soul but when you sign away your life to a media corporation who basically owns you and everything you do, what is the difference? That is the question about a film called Teen Spirit.
Elle Fanning stars as Violet, a small town teen with dreams of becoming a famous pop star so she can escape from her boring life working regular jobs and dealing with her single mother. At a local gig, Violet finds a former opera singer turned drunk who decides to help in her dreams of becoming a star. Violet enters a televised singing competition called Teen Spirit that she uses as her big break. However, like most over their head teenagers, she quickly realizes that the cost of being a star is higher than what she bargained for.
The story of Teen Spirit is by and large, structurally sound but the elements around it is what hurts the final product. Elle Fanning is oddly playing a Polish teen despite the fact she is the only person in the film without an accent and there isn’t an explanation why. The lip syncing is awful at times and even though the main character is supposed to be green as a performer, she comes off a soulless due to the song choices. Not to mention other ‘singers’ don’t even try to sync up with the track they are singing.
Despite the missteps in details for first-time director Max Minghella, Teen Spirit is the story of the dark side of the music industry and in a lot of way Hollywood itself. The film talks about temptation and not falling for vices and if there is one place where both of those run rampant, it is the entertainment industry. Violet becomes the textbook story of a small town girl who hates where she came from because it’s not as glamorous the life of a pop star that she envisions. It is not until she gets a small taste of that life that she almost loses everything before her journey even begins. It’s a tale that should be told to smarten up Jenner/Kardashian obsessed teens on to avoid becoming a future #MeToo story or even worse in the long run. It’s a good setup and decent execution, but due to the PG-13 rating, they don’t go as far with the message as they probably should.
Teen Spirit is a flawed but enjoyable story carried by some great actors and entertaining setting. Elle Fanning continues her streak as one of the best young actresses in Hollywood today, even though she sings better than she lip syncs.