The Diary of a Teenage Girl (4/10)

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Some things are best kept secret.

Overview

Minnie Goetze is a 15-year-old aspiring comic-book artist, coming of age in the haze of the 1970s in San Francisco. Insatiably curious about the world around her, Minnie is a pretty typical teenage girl. Oh, except that she’s sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend.

Metadata
Title The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Director Marielle Heller
Director of Photography Brandon Trost
Producer
Runtime 1 h 42 min
Certification R
Release Date 7 August 2015
Tagline Some things are best kept secret.
IMDb Id tt3172532
Homepage
Trailer

Minnie (Bel Powley) is a 15-year old girl growing up in 1970s San Francisco. Her mother Carol (Kristen Wiig) is a shallow hippie who spends most of her time not raising her daughter or setting any boundaries, since she is either too drunk or too high, or both. Minnie is a horny teen and keen to explore, but she considers herself too ugly to possibly be considered attractive by anyone. When her mom’s boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) in one of his many moments of weakness tells her she looks pretty, ever-horny Minnie goes in for the kiss. Monroe doesn’t hesitate and as these stories go: ‘one thing led to another’ and the core of the story is centered around the sexual relationship that develops between  Minnie and Monroe.

I can’t say I enjoyed the movie so let me explain the good, the bad and the ugly.

Good is the acting. Bel Powley is excellent as the horny ugly duckling telling us her coming of age story, and Alexander Skarsgård is very good as the likeable but immature dingleberry Monroe. The fact that the story centres on a 15 year old girl’s coming of age story rather than yet another movie about horny 15 year old boys is also a plus. And telling the story from Minnie’s perspective, without judgement or moralising is refreshing (initially, until that backfires – see The Ugly later).

Where the movie is not so good (indeed, here comes The Bad) is that the story itself is actually very shallow, and therefore becomes a bit repetitive. As a coming of age story, there isn’t a lot of character development to witness. There are poor choices and mistakes galore, but little or no consequence, learning or growth to speak of. A bit of a hollow story really.

And The Ugly may be obvious: even if you would consider labeling Monroe a pedophile a step too far (a 35 year old man grooming a horny 15 year old for sex for months?), it at least is statutory rape. The 1970s in California were a different time maybe, but even in California the age of consent was 18 already since the 1920s (and still is). In its choice of telling the story from Minnie’s side and not wanting to judge or moralise, the movie chooses to ignore that any normal adult would at least hesitate before engaging in sex with a minor 20 years their junior. Even if both Minnie and Monroe lack any moral compass themselves, by there not being any consequences for Monroe of his actions in the movie it weakens the credibility of the plot, further compounded by Minnie’s mother’s main reaction being ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ and then we go back to happy families as we close this episode of Minnie’s coming of age story.

So whilst the movie gets overwhelmingly positive reviews for its ‘bold and refreshingly honest approach’, I could not skip the moral problems the movie doesn’t want to tackle. During one of the various sex scenes I even felt the need to check how old Bel Powley actually is as it just felt all wrong watching this. She’s 23 by the way. Maybe I am just getting old, but some moralising and learning would have made this shallow movie a lot more interesting.

4/10 for the strong acting.

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (4/10)
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