The Diary of a Teenage Girl full movie review - "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" is exceptionally bold and original.
You have to be careful. Many books and movies share very similar or even identical names, but can have very different stories.
Take, for example, the film adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner's 2002 novel "The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures". The movie "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" (R, 1:42) isn't to be confused with "The Diary of a Young Girl", which is more popularly known as "The Diary of Anne Frank". Then, if you just dropped the "The" from "The Diary of a Teenage Girl", you'd be talking about "Diary of a Teenage Girl", a series of Christian YA books, which also contains a coming-of-age story, but approaches the sexual aspects COMPLETELY differently. "The Diary of a Teenage Girl", like the book and stage play which preceded it, takes an honest, realistic, smart and unflinching look at the sexual awakening of its central character.
Minnie Goetze (British TV and film actress Bel Powley) is a 15-year-old girl living with her younger sister, Gretel (Abigail Wait) and their single bohemian mother, Charlotte Worthington (Kristen Wiig) in mid-1970s San Francisco. Minnie's circumstances may not match many young girls', but her thoughts and experiences do. Minnie feels that she is overweight and unattractive, although she does attract the attention of the males of the species. She's curious and anxious about sex, seeing it as a way to validate her womanhood, offering her virginity to her mother's boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård).
Minnie is very happy that Monroe accepts her offer and the affair continues, as much because Minnie wants it to continue as anything else. She finds an old tape recorder and begins making an audio diary ? both to keep a record of her feelings ? and to process them. The events and emotions she puts on tape reveal the story and help drive it. As with any young person who has sex before being in a committed relationship or being mature enough to handle what comes next, Minnie's experience is a combination of excitement, frustration, joy, insecurity, happiness and heartache. We see her begin to grow up before our eyes as she works through this confusing mix of emotions in a complicated (and creepy) situation.
"Little Minnie" (as Monroe calls her) continues to enjoy her prematurely adult relationship but doesn't understand the mixed signals Monroe sends her, or the changes she is going through as she learns some difficult lessons. We see her experiment sexually, and also drink and do drugs, which doesn't seem to be a problem with her mom. In fact, Charlotte talks to her older daughter openly about sex (sounding more like a peer than a mother) and expresses concern that her daughter doesn't yet value sexual expression.
Minnie's support network is very limited. Not only does her mother fail to see how her daughter is changing, but Minnie isn't interested in sharing the details of her life with her nosy, only-slightly-younger sister. Minnie confides in her one real friend, Kimmie (Madeleine Waters), who shares some of the aforementioned experiences with her. Minnie also grows closer to her school-girl crush, Austin (Ricky Wasserman), but he is? a typical teenage boy. Minnie and Gretel's former step-father, Pascal (Christopher Meloni), still keeps in touch with the girls and cares a lot about them. He's much more conservative and responsible than Charlotte, but he's obviously not as involved in their lives as before.
As an aspiring cartoonist, Minnie takes a lot of comfort in her art. Her illustrations give expression to her interests and feelings, but also serve as full-screen visual images for the movie. In this way, the film expresses not just the content, but the spirit of the book on which it is based. "The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures" is a graphic novel which tells its story as much with cartoon-like illustrations by the author as with her prose. Not only does the movie do its best to translate the experience of reading the book to the big screen, but the story also reflects the author's own. The book is considered semi-autobiographical, a fictionalized version of one person's journey into womanhood.
This film is unlike anything most moviegoers have ever seen. Its frank dialog and explicit sexuality may upset some, but I feel that everything I saw on the screen was in service to the story. What is revealed to the eye pales in comparison to what is revealed to the minds of those who can watch this movie without moral judgment. It can be disturbing to see Minnie engage in so many adult activities at such a tender age, but this movie shows us real life for some young women ? and reflects aspects of it that apply to all.
The effectiveness of "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" owes to its performances and its writer-director. The entire cast does excellent work, but the two main actresses were especially impressive. I believe this is Wiig's best dramatic work of her ever-expanding career. The 23-year-old Powell is a revelation, giving one of the most fearless and lived-in performances that I've seen in years. I hope for and predict Oscar nominations for one or both women. I feel that this movie could have done without some of its more salacious and upsetting scenes, but first-time screenwriter and director Marielle Heller makes this such a unique cinematic experience, that it's difficult to be too critical of the whole. So, now that I've recorded my minor criticisms, as well as what the film offers to the senses, what it contributes to understanding a subject of universal interest and how well it does all that, I feel that this diary entry deserves an "A-".