Minnie Getz (Bel Powley) is your average 15 year old living in 1970s San Francisco. She lives with her sister and single mom Charlotte (Kristen Wiig), she goes to school, and she draws cartoons and comics in her spare time. Her life is pretty much normal… that is until the day her world is turned upside down when she loses her virginity to her Mum’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård), and Minnie’s every thought becomes consumed with sex and men. In order to deal with her new found obsession, Minnie begins to keep a voice-recorded diary where she documents the affair and the series of experimental encounters that follow in the realms of sex, drugs and friendship.
From the very first line of The Diary of a Teenage Girl, you can just tell how well the film is going to capture the psyche of the young Minnie. I credit this fact to two people in particular: Marielle Heller, the first time director who knows exactly how to illustrate the oscillation between reckless confidence and crippling self-doubt that continually occurs in the minds of young women, and Bel Powley, who brought to life one of the most well-realised teenage characters in recent times. As a female whose adolescent years weren’t all that long ago, I found Minnie infectious and so incredibly relateable that I simultaneously wanted to take her hand and guide her as well as be her new best friend. Bel Powley so gorgeously captures the naivety as well as the simple wisdom of youth, and I can’t wait to see more from the young actress; she is most definitely a star on the rise.
This coming of age strikes the perfect balance between being funny and moving; you’ll cry once and laugh even more, and women will take home a feeling that they might not have had since they were 16. But the film’s biggest achievement is the way it handles female sexulaity – an issue that is so often misrepresented or exploited in cinema. It provides a very strong and positive message in a time when young women are bombarded with so many different opinions on how they should and shouldn’t conduct themselves when it comes to sex and relationships.
There are so many other aspects of the film that I could rave about: the performances from Alexander Skarsgård and especially Kristen Wiig, who plays a far more dramatic role than we are used to seeing her in, but goes on to prove she is a master in all genres. The screenplay from Marielle Heller, based off the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, was another understated highlight of the film, plus the artistic and very-seventies look and feel that permeates the movie, from cinematography to the set design to the costuming.
I encourage women everywhere to head along to The Diary of a Teenage Girl. While it may be a little alienating for male audiences, the film perfectly captures what it’s like to be young and making those first adolescent discoveries.