The Di­ary of a Teenage Girl

THE DI­ARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, com­ing-of-age drama, rated R, Vi­o­let Crown, 4 chiles

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS -

The Di­ary of a Teenage Girl’s open­ing scene is a mo­bile view of fif­teenyear-old Min­nie’s der­rière as she strides proudly through a park. The first words are her tri­umphant voiceover: “I had sex to­day!” It’s San Fran­cisco, 1976, and Min­nie (Bel Pow­ley) has quite hap­pily lost her vir­gin­ity to her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexan­der Skars­gård). The story that fol­lows is unique among teen sex movies. It’s graphic, bound­ary-bust­ing, and gritty; it doesn’t pan­der to sen­ti­men­tal­ity or strike a sin­gle false note; and it’s told from a girl’s point of view. The movie looks beau­ti­ful and the act­ing is fan­tas­tic. It will prob­a­bly up­set a lot of peo­ple.

Min­nie is an as­pir­ing car­toon­ist liv­ing with her gor­geous, hard­drink­ing, coke-snort­ing mother, Char­lotte (Kris­ten Wiig), and her younger step­sis­ter, Gre­tel (Abby Wait). The source ma­te­rial is the 2002 di­aris­tic graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeck­ner, which was lauded for its hy­bridiza­tion of forms. The film takes a sim­i­lar ap­proach, al­low­ing Min­nie’s draw­ings and thoughts to be­come an­i­mated and even speak to her. This stylis­tic de­vice is used spar­ingly enough to pro­vide welcome mo­ments of calm and rea­son as Min­nie em­barks on sex­ual ad­ven­tures that would make Iggy Pop blush. The movie is ded­i­cated, in voice-over, to “all the girls when they have grown.” While “nos­tal­gic” is an in­ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tor for what it feels like to hear Min­nie’s ideas about men and sex and watch her en­coun­ters with a range of sex­ual part­ners — skilled and less so — the film may trig­ger vivid mem­o­ries for many adult women. Her de­ci­sions make com­plete sense to her, and adult view­ers’ 20/20 hind­sight is im­plicit in the sto­ry­telling. The movie’s vi­sion is dark enough to re­sem­ble the real lives of high-school girls who grew up fast in the city, who stayed out all night, smoked and drank, had sex with­out at­tach­ment — even if they de­sired at­tach­ment — and maybe had moth­ers who didn’t care enough where they were, and fathers who weren’t there at all.

Clear from the start is that cre­ativ­ity and in­de­pen­dence trump the clumsy ro­man­tic fum­bling of teenage boys and even the cool rocker guys from around the scene in San Fran­cisco. In the end, Min­nie’s art is more im­por­tant to her than whether or not any­one finds her at­trac­tive. She is told by sev­eral men in the movie that she is too emo­tional, too in­tense, too alive — ad­mo­ni­tions that fall upon her like a nee­dle scratch­ing a record. She has in­creas­ingly less pa­tience for the idea that she needs to calm down. Her in­ten­sity — and her in­tel­li­gence, de­spite her naiveté, which is, at times, as­tound­ing — is what will get her through ado­les­cence and into the fu­ture. — Jen­nifer Levin

I am fif­teen go­ing on ... : Bel Pow­ley

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