Film Review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl
* * * *
"I had sex today. Holy shit." If the title itself doesn't give you a pretty clear idea of what kind of film you're in for, The Diary of a Teenage Girl spells it out with the opening line, blurted out as a voiceover as the central character breaks into a goofy smile.
San Francisco in the seventies makes for a fantastically retro backdrop as we follow 15year old Minnie come of age in more ways than one in. Losing her virginity, wanting to be an artist, testing her relationship with her mother, keeping an audio diary because her life is changing, and asking life's deepest questions are all stages of the journey we follow her on, with plenty of laughs and cringes along the way.
Given the setting, there are a lot of elements of Minnie's adolescence I never experienced - seriously, drugs ahoy - but what made this film so delightful to watch was the familiarity of being a teenage girl. No matter how different two individuals are, being a teenager means the same things to everyone to a certain degree, it's just how we deal with it all that makes us different. Looking at yourself in the mirror and wondering if you will ever find 'the one' or if indeed anyone will ever love you is something I don't think any woman could say she didn't do at some point in her life. The thing is, it's so ridiculous in hindsight to know that was plaguing your 14/15-year old thoughts that you block it out. What this movie did so well was place me, the viewer, right back in that world only this time with the glory of hindsight that makes you realise the true ridiculousness of girls worrying about things so young.
Actress Bel Powley A.K.A. the youngest 23 year old you'll ever see, does an excellent job in her first leading role, and is supported by all-too-believable performances by Kristin Wiig as her nostalgic mother, and Alexander Skarsgard as her mother's somewhat sleazy boyfriend, moustache and all - you'll never look at Eric Northman the same again.
While this film may not be everyone's cup of tea, it is charming for those of us who remember the awkward and frustrating state of being a teenage girl, and it frames the whole messy endeavour in a funny yet honest way. This film is not without drama, and I'm not ashamed to say I shed a tear near the end but then, I almost always do! If you love indie flicks, I recommend you get along to see this one if you get the chance. Laughs and cringing guaranteed, and the whole film is set off beautifully with Minnie's characteristic doodles which seep from her page into real life. Love it.
'The Diary of a Teenage Girl' opens in UK cinemas August 7.