Hi everyone, Bryan Here…
‘The Diary of A Teenage Girl‘ sounds like it’s a bubble gum pop movie with the latest MTV stars, void of any real emotion or reality, complete with the worst of music today. Fortunately for everyone involved, that’s not the case here with Marielle Heller’s great film, ‘The Diary of A Teenage Girl‘. This indie movie is just full of surprises as we get a graphic glimpse inside the life of one high-schooler’s sexual encounters over the course of about a year. Based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel and set in 1970’s San Francisco, the first moment of the film has our main character Minnie (Bel Powley) narrate to us that she just had sex for the first time as she’s walking through the park.
That smile we all got when we told ourselves we just had sex for the first time, shows up on Minnie’s face, and brings back all sorts of memories as we the audience begin to laugh and smile with her, creating this bond instantly with Minnie. This is where the film flips this “teenage girl” upside down and becomes the movie of very bad decisions for each character. It’s like watching a plane slowly spin out of control into the ground. I’m not saying the movie is bad by any means.
Quite the contrary, but the these characters in the film always take the wrong path, but it’s told in such an innocent and charming way, that you can’t help but love and root for Minnie. The wrong path starts with Minnie’s first sexual experience, which after we smile with her, we find out that she had sex with her mother Charlotte’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard). It just gets crazier from there. Charlotte seems to have trouble keeping a job and is still holding on to the hippie lifestyle from her younger days, while Monroe is a self-centered do-nothing guy, who now can’t get enough of the way too young Minnie.
As Minnie is attending school and learning the ins and outs of sex and this “so-called” relationship, she documents everything she feels and does in her diary, complete with pictures, which pop up in animation form and talk to Minnie throughout the film. Between Monroe and a rich kid at school, Minnie and her good friend Kimmie (Madeline Waters) try to spice up their lives with drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex with strangers. As Minnie tells us, she feels like if she doesn’t experiment now in her young life, she may never get another chance at it. She examines her body and herself in regards to the decisions she makes in such a natural way, that we can all relate.
Things come to a head when Minnie’s real father (Christopher Meloni) visits his ex-wife’s house and sees Monroe there, as well as when Charlotte finds out about Minnie’s secret relationship. We all know that Minnie will eventually find herself through all these horrible life lessons and I love that her mom (Wiig) is so amazing and true, while being an uncouth mother at the same time. It’s fantastic to watch unfold onscreen.
Bel Powely is simply phenomenal as Minnie. We believe every action and emotion coming out of her. She plays Bel with an excellent charm that you can’t help but want to be friends with her, even through the bad times. Skarsgard and Wiig also turn in excellent performances as well, but the light shines bright on Bel. Marielle’s direction is spot on and captures each divine character moment and 1976 San Francisco perfectly. The production design team did an excellent job here.
The music in the film is also excellent and will teach the younger generation what music should be. ‘The Diary of A Teenage Girl‘ is not your usual comedy, full of one note characters and pop music at every corner. Instead, we have a graphic and adult look at one girl’s exploration of her own sexual revolution, and all the problems that come with it. You don’t want to miss this one.
– Bryan Kluger