REVIEW: THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (2015)

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THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (2015)

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Great indie comedy/drama is based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner and tells the story of 15-year-old aspiring cartoonist Minnie Goetz (Bel Powley). Self-conscious Minnie lives in 1976 San Francisco and has a sexual awaking when she starts to have an affair with the handsome 35-year-old boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgård) of her free-spirited mother (Kristen Wiig). The experience opens her up to exploring her newfound confidence and sexuality…and all the emotional turmoil that comes with it.

Written and directed by Marielle Heller, this is a provocative and daring movie about a young woman’s coming of age that is also touching, brazenly sexual and sometimes very funny. The film boldly breaks the double standard by unapologetically portraying a young woman sowing her newfound sexual oats and thus dealing with all the conflicting emotions that it brings. It also bravely portrays a very taboo relationship between Minnie and the much older Monroe, who is basically taking advantage of a young woman’s budding sexual appetites due to his own emotional insecurities. It’s done with intelligence, class, style and a touch of whimsy as Minnie’s cartoons often come to life to accent the situation or further explore what’s on her mind. This is a refreshingly honest film, made by Heller from her clever and very smart script that presents it’s story without judging the characters inhabiting it, or their behavior. The film is never smug or pretentious, either, nor is it ever exploitive or insensitive, despite the plentiful sexual situations involving a character that is supposed to be 15-years-old. This is an energetic and emotional film that has it’s heartbreaks, but also presents Minnie’s experiences as a natural progression out of childhood and a stage of self-discovery and maturing that some of the “adults” around her have yet to do. Watching Minnie coming to terms with not only all the new emotions and blossoming confidence, but the power and control her sexuality can sometimes afford her, is portrayed with the honesty and respect it deserves and there is an energy to Minnie’s awakening that resonates thanks to a firecracker of a leading lady.

While on the subject of cast, Heller achieves much of this, not only from her heartfelt script, that never trivializes the subject matter, but from great performances from her core actors. British actress Bel Powley is simply amazing as Minnie. She gives a brave and complex performance portraying all the emotions that a young girl, who is discovering her sexuality, would have. From the excitement, to dealing with the unexpected attachments, to the disappointment and heartbreaks, Bel is simply a powerhouse as a very real teenage girl becoming a young woman, who has urges and desires and learns to take control of them, all the while finding out who she is and who she wants to be. A young woman not afraid to use her newfound sexuality to get what, or who she wants either. Alexander Skarsgård does a really good job at the difficult task of making Monroe a person we don’t jump to conclusions about. A man with his own flaws and insecurities that lead him to have a very inappropriate relationship with his girlfriend’s young daughter. He keeps him from being just a one dimensional stereotypical creep, by giving us someone with his own emotional issues that lead him to irresponsibly respond to Minnie’s advances. Kristen Wiig is fantastic as Minnie’s mother Charlotte who has been married and now has adopted a more Bohemian lifestyle of drugs and sex to sate the emotional emptiness in her life. A woman sadly too involved in her own life to really see what is going on, practically in front of her. A great cast to portray well written characters.

Really loved this movie. It’s boldly sexual by presenting it’s subject of a young woman’s coming of age in a frank and unapologetic manner and at a time without the fear of AIDS and STDs. We get a dazzling performance by Bel Powley as Minnie and Marielle Heller takes us on her emotionally turbulent sexual awaking skillfully and with a lot of heart. There are some clever artistic touches too from the writer/director, as well as, an intelligent script with multidimensional characters that treats it’s subject with honesty and respect. A great little indie movie. Also stars Christopher Meloni as Charlotte’s ex, Pascal and Abigail Wait as Minnie’s little sister, Gretel.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 ans 1/2 stars.

three and one half stars rating

 

 

 

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