Saturday, March 14, 2015
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
True to its title, Marielle Heller's adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner's semi-autobiographical novel has the loosely structured, unfiltered feel of a young person's diary. The film cleaves to 15-year-old Minnie (Bel Powley) in mid-'70s San Francisco as she lurches toward self-knowledge, careening from tearful insecurity to defiant self-assertion to ecstatic experimentation. Her voiceover narration and Powley's impassioned, emotionally naked performance capture the way things can feel simultaneously terrifying and thrilling at that age, as well as the way new experiences can make someone—especially someone young—feel like a whole new person.
We first encounter Minnie just after she has lost her virginity. Reveling in the memory, she thinks: "I had sex today. Holy shit!" Her outsized reactions are often funny, like when she brags to a friend that her much older lover is at an est seminar, her pride revealing her childish idealizing of adult activities and the way she feels sophisticated by virtue of her association with a "worldly" adult. The humor is always kindhearted, though, emerging from and contributing to our understanding of the characters. The Diary of a Teenage Girl may laugh at Minnie's delusions, but it never belittles her. Read the rest on Slant Magazine