Pros: the film is well decorated with music; casting Elle Fanning in the lead role; camera work by Autumn Durald Cons: a large number of clichés; obvious development of the main character “Chasing a Dream” / Teen Spirit
Directed by Max Minghella
Starring: Elle Fanning (Violet), Zlatko Buric (Vlad), Rebecca Hall (Jules), Agnieszka Grochowska (Marla), Clara Rugaard (Roxy), Millie Brady (Anastasia), Olivia Gray (Lisa), etc.
Companies Automatik, Aperture Media Partners, Blank Tape
Year of release 2018 (in Ukraine 2019)
“Chasing a Dream” is an easy and predictable film about the desire to get into the music industry. The film was produced by Fred Berger (“La La Land”), and was written and directed by Max Minghella, an actor who played one of the main roles in the TV series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Interestingly, he followed in the footsteps of his Oscar-winning father Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Cold Mountain”) into directing.
Max Minghella himself is still far from being recognized by film academics, but the debutant director can easily count on a teenage audience. He takes a story about a young raw talent that has been told a million times and re-imagines it in an elegant light. American actress Elle Fanning (Maleficent, The Neon Demon), who starred in the title role, helps draw attention to this film.
Fanning plays a schoolgirl named Violet. She is the daughter of Polish immigrants living on the British Isle of Wight. She is oppressed by the melancholy of provincial life, a strict mother and a complete lack of self-realization. Violet brightens up the monotonous reality by putting on headphones and immersing herself in the world of music. Despite her innate modesty, she sees herself on stage, so she decides to take part in the famous Teen Spirit singing competition, which is looking for talent throughout Britain. Having started auditions, the girl enlists the help of a former opera singer who is addicted to alcohol.
The film “Chasing the Dream” was written and filmed without strain. Its rhythm is set not by the dramatic intensity of emotions, but by the songs that the main character listens to. These are famous tracks by Grimes, Major Lazer and No Doubt. Getting to know Violet is like a nice music video – her everyday life combined with dream pop and electronics becomes beautiful, even when the girl is cleaning the stables.
Behind this is the work of cinematographer Autumn Durald, who creates a soft aesthetic combined with neon lights (Elle Fanning is shot in this lighting again). Before this, Durald made videos for famous Canadian, English and American performers. Having mastered his hand at short videos, he produced a full-length version of the musical story. Thanks to him, a film dedicated to a hackneyed topic can be watched to the end.
Another discovery of the film is Elle Fanning singing. The actress herself performed the songs with which her character performed at the competition. It’s not that Fanning is shocking with her unique talent, but at least it’s pleasing that she can also sing. This is not the last thing when it comes to recreating song shows.
The fictional talent competition Teen Spirit has become a collective image of similar projects (for example, it is easily recognizable as The X Factor). It shows not only auditions, the work of producers and jitters behind the scenes. In the film, Max Minghella tries to hint at what happens to contestants when they take the step towards publicity, and demonstrates foul play on the part of the organizers. Again, the director does this without excessive drama, so show business in the film still helps the heroine to open up.
The film “Chasing a Dream” is stuffed with dozens of cliches and obvious twists that should become an impetus for the development of characters. The charm of the film, of course, rests on Elle Fanning’s appearance and the quality of filming, but not on the development of the plot. Nevertheless, such films are needed by every new generation that wants to see themselves in modern heroes and hear music that is close to them. And for an hour and a half of screen time, believe in your dream.
The film is banal, but shot without unnecessary drama and with a pleasant aesthetic. In some places it resembles a high-quality music video.