In the seventh series of The X Factor, One Direction came third (Matt Cardle won), and the internet exploded with a fanbase quite unlike anything that anyone had seen before. The British talent show galvanised a new generation – of singers, of dancers, of fans – and it’s this which comes to life in Teen Spirit, Max Minghella’s starry, wholesome directorial debut.
Violet Valenski (Elle Fanning) looks like some kind of Wes Anderson black sheep in yellow clothing, her shoulders hunched as she waits to hear her fate as a semi-finalist in Teen Spirit, the singing competition that could change everything. She lives at home with her Polish mother and farm family of horses and chickens. When she’s not at school, or working one of two part-time jobs, she sings Tegan and Sara in front of a neon heart-shaped light.
More Toni Erdmann than Simon Cowell, Violet’s unlikely mentor is Vlad (Zlatko Buric), the only person who claps at the end of her songs. The pair embark on a road trip to Violet’s auditions for the newest talent competition, which travels the UK to find a teenager who truly smells like success. Along the way they learn about the importance of friendship and the cost of following your dreams, all in the name of pop music.
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