4 July 2005 | karenjwilson
A modest but heartwarming little movie - great for a wet afternoon
This 2004 TV-movie is based on Britney and Lynne Spears' novel "A Mother's Gift", and was co-executive-produced by the pair. The heroine, Texan teenager Holly Lovell (played by Lindsey Haun), is an aspiring singer and Britney fan - she has a poster of the notorious pop princess on her bedroom wall and Ms Spears' song "Stronger" appears on a number of occasions and in several guises.
One of the vocal profs at a posh conservatoire sees innate talent in Holly's performance at a local jamboree and successfully argues her case for a probationary try-out for a scholarship, despite opposition from his colleagues. Holly's mom makes huge financial sacrifices to get her daughter a semester to prove herself.
Making Britney's "Stronger" her showcase in Vocal Majors doesn't go down too well with the prof, who makes it clear that a classical performance will be required if Holly is to progress any further. Meanwhile, the hot guy of the class hits on her, much to the disgust of bitchy Angela, star soprano, who considers him hers by right.
Meanwhile, Holly's attempts at disguising her redneck origins aren't helped by her mom, who takes a job at a local diner after her car breaks down, and a rift develops between them. It's more than a little unfair on her mom, though, since she's been doing everything she can to avoid showing her daughter up - even declining some romantic enticements from one of the other profs.
Angela sabotages Holly's audition by getting her drunk on vodka, but classmate Zoe offers to help her, and she is given a chance to redeem herself in the class recital. She becomes quite proficient at singing the Habanera from Bizet's "Carmen" once she studies up on her French - and even earns some applause from the previously sceptical academicians.
Zoe turns out to have a secret other side as a rock singer and invites Holly and her pal Portia (aka Ditz) along to her next gig. Zoe calls Holly up on stage and they do a lively duet while Ditz gets rapidly out of it on drink and drugs and ends up in hospital.
Hospital-bound Ditz gives Holly a lesson in mother-appreciation, which is taken very much to heart. Holly makes it up with her mom and invites her to the recital. Her mom feels free to phone the prof and they go to the recital together.
At the recital, Holly does a fine job with the Habanera, even managing to overshadow Angela's Mozart, but as she reaches her final note lights go on, musicians and dancers appear on the stage and she, Zoe and others deliver an aspirational rock song about being strong. They get a standing ovation.
It's a quiet but heartwarming little TV movie, fine for a wet afternoon. Some of the more obvious clichés of college life are avoided, but quite a few are not. There's no great depth in the acting, and if Lindsey Haun had been called Britney Spears the critics would have piled in with predictable savagery. Best turn comes from the ever-excellent Virginia Madsen as Holly's mother.