Provocative “Diary of a Teenage Girl”
Director, Marielle Heller based her film on Phoebe Gloeckner’s novel of the same name. Heller said at the Q and A that she felt the book “spoke to her.” Both are about a “coming of age teenage girl” in 1976. The film is set in San Francisco. Minnie is played by British actress, Bel Powley, her mother, Charlotte, by Kristen Wiig, and her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe, by Alexander Skarsgard.
The story centers around Minnie, who at 16, is in lust with her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe and dictates her private thoughts into her tape recorder. That will prove to be an unwise move. She initiates an affair, which is primarily sexual, with Monroe. Monroe is not the “brightest bulb.” He is some twenty years older, but certainly not wiser to engage in sex with the under-age daughter of his girlfriend. Who is the adult?
At times, the wide-eyed teenager seems wiser than both adults. Her mother, Charlotte, is stoned or drunk, and though she is around, she is out of it. She is not “mother” material and does not set a good example by fooling around with Monroe in front of her daughter who has raging teen hormones.
The sex scenes with Monroe and Minnie were graphic and verging on soft porn and that bothered me.
Monroe gets confused. Does he love Charlotte, the mother or Minnie, the daughter? He tries to break it off, but then he gets jealous when Minnie gets another conquest. Minnie presents at times as a sex crazed teen, totally ruled by her hormones and sex drive which is in “full throttle.” Minnie was not presented as well-rounded. What else motivates her in life? Other times, Minnie is the adult and is critical of her mother and Monroe. She is on one hand, innocent, and on the other a teenage Mata Hari.
She comes across as an innocent, beguiling big eyes child and a manipulative black-mailing vixen.
Monroe, well, he is in a stupor and there is not much going on upstairs. He is ruled by his penis and gives only a little thought to his actions as Minnie wraps him around her little finger. Skarsgard was convincing as the dim-witted Monroe. But, I felt little sympathy for him and less for Charlotte. It became, “the apple does not fall far from the tree.” When mom finds out about the affair her under-age daughter has been having under her own roof, she explodes. Monroe must marry Minnie. How does that sit with Minnie? And, this is the turning point in the film. You have to see it to find out.
The fantasy sequences in the film done with cartoon animation were the saving grace. Minnie would draw her fantasies. Some were drawings in a book and others came beautifully to life as animated sequences and showed what was going on in Minnie’s head. This device worked to soften the blow, to provide some beauty, creativity, and humor into the drama. They were wonderfully inventive. Brandon Trost’s cinematography was beautiful and created a warm feel.
Check your local theaters for listings and show times. Do you take your teenage daughter or son? That is your call. There are sexually explicit scenes.