For Reel

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
September 3, 2015, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Marielle Heller
5 Stars
The Diary of a Teenage GirlTo 15-year-old Minnie (Bel Powley), sex is the key to unlocking the adult world of passions and romances, a necessary coming-of-age stepping stone that will somehow make sense of the messiness of life. As she will learn (as all teenagers do in their first trysts with love), that’s not exactly how it works. First of all, she loses her virginity to her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) 35-year-old boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). The way that The Diary of a Teenage Girl treats the relationship is with a refreshing lack of moralizing–director Marielle Heller knows that audiences have their own opinions, and isn’t interested in disputing them. But Monroe doesn’t seem so much predatory as he is clueless, and Minnie is often the initiator. Instead of engaging in this line of contemporary gender politics, the film is more interested in the fallout, the sense of how any relationship opens the door to questions about what love is and where one achieves their sense of self worth once sex is brought into the equation. It’s messy and brilliant, true to its title in the loosely structured, multidirectional pull of the narrative. Powley’s large, doe-eyes suggests her naïveté, but she’s a smarter actress than that and has several remarkable moments of realization near the end. Skarsgård, continuing to impress, doesn’t play Monroe as a weasel but as a goofball. Not exactly likable, not totally pathetic–he, like Minnie, is someone who is still trying to figure all of this stuff out. Aren’t we all?