The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Director: Marielle Heller (2015)

This sincere and uncompromising drama examines the slow burn of a teenage girl’s sexual awakening – from her point of view.

Set in the 1970’s, it’s a taboo-breaking tale of growth and betrayal, a far cry from the ditzy social escapades of Bridget Jones.

Based on the graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by author and artist Phoebe Gloeckner, it’s described by the makers as sharp, funny, provocative and non-judgemental.

Perhaps not so much the funny, it does have an intelligent script, contemplative pacing, strong performances and, unlike the protagonist, possesses a strong sense of identity.

Fifteen year old Minnie (Brit actress Bel Powley) lives with her sister and single mum Charlotte (Kristen Wiig).

She has began an affair with her mum’s thirty five year old boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard). Minnie’s best friend Kimmie (Madeleine Waters) points out the obvious truth of the situation.

From the beginning Minnie documents her experiences onto cassette tapes via a (knowingly phallic) microphone – with predictable consequences.

Casual hook-ups, lesbianism, threesomes, prostitution, acid trips and coke binges follow.

Minnie is awkward, lonely, bright and talented. Her illustrations burst off the page and move around the frame, illustrating her moods and thoughts.

She writes for career advice to her heroine, the underground cartoonist Aline Kominsky.

Monroe to our eyes is a predatory paedophile, exploiting his relationship with Charlotte for access to Minnie. But importantly it’s not how Minnie sees him.

Equally, Minnie doesn’t see herself as a victim or a survivor of abuse, but as a person seeking independence, her own identity and a place in the world.

We have sympathy for Minnie and her younger sister Gretel (Abby Wait) but most adults are remote, repellent or pathetic.

Your young teenage daughter will probably love this film for it’s honest portrayal. You may be grateful she’s not allowed to watch it.

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