Alice T – Fragments Festival Review

They say that teenagers scare the living shit out of me…

That’s how the famous song goes – which is more of a rallying cry to adolescents and a mockery of adults who feel the sentiment. But as one gets older, with time frittering away whatever understanding an adult had over that hormonal stage of their lives, it’s easy to be somewhat fearful of the erratic and temperamental teens that populate our lives.

Especially when they are particularly thorny in nature. Yet, still, can we grow to understand them? That’s the aim of Alice T.

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Directed by Radu Muntean, Alice T revolves around the titular teenager who is impertinent at best. Adopted by her mother who seems nothing but disappointed in her, so Alice invents a fictitious life which blurs reality for herself too. When Alice discovers that she is pregnant, the friction between herself, her mothers, and her life at school.

The problem with Alice T is that it only gifts its eponymous character some real emotion towards the end. Any attempts to fall into a connection between mother and daughter skims instead of dives deep. It also makes Alice T more prickly than sympathetic. Maybe I am looking at the film from an adult perspective but it’s hard to find a common ground with someone who starts horrible and doesn’t learn much until the final act.

The film also hits a cardinal sin of mine (or something that I am really fed up with): There have been enough films about tearaway teens. This is the biggest problem. Alice is seemingly fearsome for no apparent reason. There’s the implications of being adoption are there in the air – even though her mother Boganda uses the fact to undermine herself and infer judgement from others – but Alice is never really fleshed out and given a rhyme for her actions more so than being a teen who just is awful. One wishes that there would be a film about a teenager who doesn’t do drugs or alcohol or has sex or kicks off. That would be boring, right?

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Not necessarily – it just seems with Alice T that these reasons aren’t there. The film struggles pairing the issues with the act and when mother and daughter wind up talking to one another, you wish it’d linger just a little longer to hit.

When the finale hits, your thankful that the film finally gives its lead character some depth and it slams into you hard (even if the closing scene does last a little longer than it should.) The film has terrific performances, particularly by Andra Guti, but it is a hard slog despit it’s good moments.

Alice T is a long slog but it has good moments.


Alice T plays as part of Fragments Festival tonight
Buy tickets now.

Teen Spirit – Fragments Festival Review

By Sandra Collingham

It is a tale as old as time. A young pop starlet dreams of fame and fortune with their singing and are soon thrust into the terrifying world. We’ve seen it over and over again in movies such as the recent Oscar winner A Star Is Born, and before that the 1976 A Star Is Born, and before that Judy Garland’s A Star Is Born, and finally the 1934 movie A Star Is Born.

Anyway, regardless, pop stardom and ingénue fame have sparked many outings on the big screen. Teen Spirit is a film hoping to twist the narrative into a more contemporary feel with Elle Fanning leading the way.

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Directed by Max Minghella (best known for his acting roles in movies such as Horns and 10 Years,) the film revolves around Violet, a shy Polish born British teenager who dreams of life beyond her small town. Wishing to pursue her passion of singing, relegated to wailing in pubs, Violet enters a singing contest with the help of an unlikely mentor. Soon she is thrust into the competition and the bright lights of the pop-world.

Set to an outrageously catchy soundtrack that ranges from Ellie Goulding to Sigrid, Teen Spirit is a vivid and energetic film that captures the ferocity of a pop-singing and being a teenager in equal measure. Shot by cinematographer Autumn Durald, famed for crafting music videos such as Janelle Monae and Haim, Teen Spirit has a definite look and feel that embellishes colour and crafts this modern vivid feel to the film. It’s a stunning watch that matches the confidence of Minghella’s direction and the catchiness of whatever tune is blasting out. It is somewhat of an addictive watch.

Elle Fanning perhaps acts her hardest and brushes off any naysayers she has about her acting talent. Here she imbues Violet with a vibrancy, a hopefulness and also has pipes to match. Fanning also gifts Violet a complexity that may not have been there in the initial script and whilst Violet may seem like a character without too much writing, Fanning gives her personality which triumphs here.

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The biggest problem with Teen Spirit is that it is desperately clichéd, presenting us with a story that has been told over and over again with only the flare to set it apart from the rest. This may make the film a predictable watch as well as a very shallow one too. The script and subsequent film somewhat wastes the character by never delving deeper than it should’ve done which is a great shame.

That being said, whatever surface level it skims, it does so gleefully – with all the talent of Elle Fanning and all excitement of the titular Teen Spirit.


Fragments Festival plays 7th – 15th June!