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Film Review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

September 9, 2015 by
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Author and artist Phoebe Gloeckner first published her (rumoured to be) semi-autobiographical novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures in 2002. A story of sexual awakening, this graphic novel, now a motion picture, stars Alexander Skarsgard (TV Series True Blood), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) and up-and-comer, rising star Bel Powley (A Royal Night Out).

In Marielle Heller’s feature film directional debut, we meet Minnie (Powley), a rather precocious and curious 15 year old who considers herself unattractive and fat. As she prepares to lose her virginity, she soon discovers a mutual attraction is forming between her and Monroe (Skarsgard). It isn’t before long the naive teenager Minnie is having an affair with the older, but none the wiser Monroe, who is also her Mother’s boyfriend.

The dangerous places this fatal attraction is bound to lead, the individual interpretations post-sex of their situation and the anticipation of both Minnie’s Mother Charlotte (Wiig) discovering the affair and the subsequent fall from grace are this film’s staying power. And they need to be, for there are no sub-plots or side stories flowing throughout this provocative movie.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is not a film for the shy or the prudes either. The dialogue spoken from all mouths, but mostly that from 15 year old Minnie’s (Don’t worry, she’s 22-23 years of age in real-life!) is explicit and vulgar. Not to mention the numerous sex scenes and nudity that have made the final cut.

To assist the film achieve that graphic nature captured in Gloeckner’s novel, The Diary of a Teenage Girl has been produced with the addition of semi-abstract style animation which appears, sometimes less and sometimes in full, throughout a number of scenes. While offering some visual distraction, I’m not sure its intended use is made clear enough, nor does it have the same breathtaking effect of an Ari Folman (The Congress, Waltz With Bashir) film.

The dry and dark brand of humour written into the script at sporadic times however does have a place and works very well. By the end, so long as this movies storyline and a few of its themes (and some underlying themes) have their intended impact upon you, The Diary of a Teenage Girl should hold your interest firmly enough, for long enough.


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