The days and weeks, months even, I spent waiting for this movie seemed endless and I didn’t even know why I was waiting. I had not seen the trailer, I was vaguely aware of what the premise was, but something told me to wait for it, so I did. Then, suddenly, the waiting was done and I could watch the movie I had anticipated for so long: and oh, how glad I was that I waited.
As a debut, in terms of writing as well as directing, Marielle Heller did better than expected. Based on the novel the movie was carried through by a single character’s coming of age story, from the moment she lost her virginity, to the moment she realized her own strength. At first, I was worried it might reflect the previous movies on sexual awakening I had seen (mostly bad) but set in the 70’s, The Diary of a Teenage Girl had a certain freedom and a variety of different opportunities to present its story. In another era, it might have not worked at all.
Minnie (Bel Powley), is a 15 year old girl who asks her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård), to have sex with her, and doesn’t seem too surprised when he agrees. What surprised me though, was the fact that it was mostly Minnie who initiated things, and most of the interactions that took place. She was making decisions based on her needs, and as she described herself, those needs were strongly and constantly driven by sex. Whether it was intentional, or whether it translated on screen as such, but I thought Minnie was quite self-assured and confident, despite her insecurities and what the story line might have reflected.
And that was actually what I liked about the movie, the fact that she was making decisions, some wrong, yes, but she was making them and she dealt with the consequences. So many movies focusing on teenagers and sex have this whole thing the other way around, things happen to the characters, and they have to overcome it. If a movie set in the current times, had a teenage girl as a main protagonist, who made decisions based on her sex-drive, it would be a very different kind of movie and she wouldn’t be the heroin. Yet, Minnie, in my eyes, was cool, unique and awesome.
Filled with 70’s clothing, design and dominated by a golden hue, The Diary of a Teenage Girl feels out of time but suits well into the current mixture of indie films. Bold and unapologetic, the movie shows a different side to one’s sexual awakening and does it well. The only downside to the movie, despite it having hand drawn illustrations running on the screen, is that it feels unmemorable. There isn’t going to be a scene that will pop into my head almost like a landmark when I think about The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Yes, it had snippets here and there, but it needed more and besides, a movie that doesn’t use Kristen Wiig’s full potential, is somewhat questionable as well.