Last night I went to see “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”.
I first became interested in the film about four weeks ago when I heard an interview on NPR with Bel Powley, the actress that plays the lead role in the film.
The film is the story of Minnie (Powley) a fifteen year old girl in San Francisco in 1976. After a cuddle on the couch with her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) hints at turning sexual Minnie is off and running on her adventure of sexual discovery. Before too long Minnie is engaged in an affair with Monroe, not to mention having sex with other people and doing lots of drugs.
The film can be seen from several different view points. It’s a coming of age story, first and foremost. It’s a time capsule of the center of Hippie life before the arrival of A.I.D.S. and 1980s Yuppiedom. It’s a cautionary tale of how wrong things can go when parents (in this case Minnie’s mother played by Kristen Wiig) don’t keep a close eye on their children because they are engaged in childlike behavior themselves. It’s also an interesting portrait of gender roles and the allure of youth.
Overall I really liked the film. I felt that it did a good job of telling the story and it was very entertaining. The characters are all flawed and I can’t say that any of them are incredibly likeable but that’s what makes them so interesting to watch.
There are times when the film is a little bit shocking; not because of the actions taken by Minnie but by the shear fact that she is fifteen years old. As much as she wants to be a woman the fact is she’s a child and she’s not being looked after.
The film is sure the make people think of their own youth. I was a very late bloomer in terms of my own sexuality and watching Minnie I was actually grateful for that. I know what an emotional rollercoaster ride my adolescence was and I can’t imagine how much more complicated it would have been if sex had been thrown into the mix. I was rather amused when Minnie’s sexual relationship with Monroe first began because she doesn’t want to pass up the opportunity to have sex because it may never happen again. That is such a virgin/teenage view of things and I totally get it. However, as a married thirty something I now know that sex is just one of many facets of adult life and having it does not in any way actually make you an adult. It’s all the not fun stuff that makes you an adult.
There are several instances of little bits of animation used to show Minnie’s inner world. Since Minnie is an aspiring cartoonist and there are lots of drugs involved I get why it is there. However, I feel like there are enough CGI effects in mainstream films that it is not needed in an independent film like this. I feel like Powley does a good enough job with her acting that you don’t need visual effects to show us what is going on in her mind and heart.
I had never seen Bev Powley in anything before and she did a great job carrying the film. Alexander Skarsgård does an excellent job of walking the fine line between sexy, charismatic and kind of creepy. I utterly loved Kristen Wiig’s performance. In fact I would love a spin off movie about her.
What in the world made this woman such a hands off mom?
In it’s best form film is art and good art can make people uncomfortable. The film is bound to make many uncomfortable. I’m sure many people don’t want to think of teenage girls having and enjoying sex (the high school boy Minnie gets involved with is freaked out by her passion, which his interesting because a boy would never have that thrown in his face). If you are up for a film that will make you talk and think check this out but be warned it really is an adult film despite the age of it’s protagonist.
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