The Diary Of A Teenage Girl
The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a 2015 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Marielle Heller, based on the hybrid novel of the same name by Phoebe Gloeckner. It stars Bel Powley as a 15-year-old girl who becomes sexually active by starting a relationship with her mother's boyfriend. It also stars Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgård, Christopher Meloni, Quinn Nagle, and Austin Lyon. It premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and had a limited release on August 7, 2015 by Sony Pictures Classics.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
In 1976 San Francisco, 15-year-old aspiring cartoonist Minnie begins keeping an audio diary. She is stirred by her awakening sexuality and wants to lose her virginity. She fears she may be unattractive.
When Minnie's bohemian mother Charlotte is too busy to go out with her boyfriend Monroe, she suggests he take Minnie out instead. At a bar, they flirt and she tells him she wants to sleep with him. They begin meeting at his apartment and having sex. She shares the details of her sexual experiences with her friend Kimmie, and records them in her audio diary.
Charlotte grows suspicious of the relationship between Minnie and Monroe, but he convinces her that she is imagining things. Charlotte discovers Minnie's audio diary, and confronts them. She decides that Minnie and Monroe must now marry, which he agrees to. Minnie runs away from home in disgust and begins seeing a risk-taking lesbian, Tabatha. When Tabatha brings her to a drug dealer, having told him that Minnie will have sex with him for the drugs, Minnie returns to her family.
Like most teenage girls, Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is longing for love, acceptance and a sense of purpose in the world. Minnie begins a complex love affair with her mother's (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend, "the handsomest man in the world," Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). What follows is a sharp, funny and provocative account of one girl's sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment.
THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL is based on Phoebe Gloeckner's novel of the same name, hailed by Salon as "one of the most brutally honest, shocking, tender and beautiful portrayals of growing up female in America." Writer/Director Marielle Heller unlocks this diary with a richly comedic and deeply personal vision. In her feature film directorial debut, Heller brings Gloeckner's book to life with fearless performances, a stirring score, inventive graphic novel-like animation sequences, imagination, humor and heart. It is a coming of age story that is as poignant as it is unsettling.
Coming-of-age stories told from a girl's perspective tend to go a couple of predictable ways: A girl expresses her sexuality and disaster ensues, leading to promiscuity, drug use, pregnancy, hooking up under the freeway, etc. Or, the story focuses on the "first love" aspect, the explosion of intense emotions (and hormones), bathed in the lens flare of nostalgia. But what about a story where a girl explores her sexuality with enthusiasm (just like a boy would), and disaster does NOT ensue? Those stories are harder to come by, although they are out there. "Diary of a Teenage Girl," from first-time writer/director Marielle Heller (based on the novel by Phoebe Gloeckner), is one of those stories. It's a refreshing, and, sadly, rare take on a girl coming into her own. Once Minnie (played by Bel Powley, in a major performance) discovers how great sex is, she wants more of it. Her choices are not always smart (she's only 15), her partner is wildly inappropriate for her (not to mention illegal), but Heller has spoken about how she wanted to allow for complexity. The result is a film that is funny and sad, scary and sweet, disturbing and revelatory.
There are other films that have looked at coming-of-age from the girl's side of things. William Inge's plays and screenplays in the 1950s, fraught with repressed desire and terror of being labeled a "bad girl", were all about that. "Welcome to the Dollhouse" is in this realm, as are the films of Francois Ozon and Céline Sciamma. Nancy Savoca's "Dogfight" places the emotional and sexual journey of Rose (Lili Taylor) on equal footing with that of Birdlace (River Phoenix), thereby avoiding the tiresome and sentimental manic-pixie-dream-girl formula. "Little Darlings," as silly as some of it was, took the sexual urges of teenage girls seriously, adding unpredictable elements of sharp poignancy. "Little Darlings" is kind to girls who want to have sex and to say that that is not usually the case is to understate the situation. When teenage girls exploring their sexuality and enjoying it (like boys do) is seen as radical, or disturbing, or gross, then there is an urgent need for films like "Diary of a Teenage Girl."
"It's a refreshing, and, sadly, rare take on a girl coming into her own...the result is a film that is funny and sad, scary and sweet, disturbing and revelatory...there is an urgent need for films like 'Diary of a Teenage Girl.'" - Sheila O'Malley, RogerEbert.com
Heller demonstrates not only an uncanny hand with casting (Powley, a Brit in her early 20s, is note-perfect as an American in her midteens), but a visual imagination that makes you eager to see more of her work. Minnie, who keeps a diary with drawings, dreams of becoming a graphic novelist one day.
Said Heller, "We didn't want it to be sort of this stereotypical thing where she's a girl suddenly walking into a cartoon world." For a film based on a graphic novel, excellent animation is a must, and so Gunnarsdottir was one of the first individuals recruited to the film. The artist developed the illustrations in close collaboration with Heller over the course of two years, and the result exudes vintage San Francisco with a muted, Wes Anderson-esque color palette.
That's a story that's propped up hundreds of novels and movies over the years. But most of those stories have been about teenage boys, finding themselves enraptured with a woman who's either an adult or from some other social strata entirely (neatly encapsulated in Billy Joel's seminal classic "Uptown Girl"). How often have we seen this story about a young woman, much less seen it in a story where her embrace of her sexuality is treated without apology, as something completely natural and important?
Phoebe Gloeckner's 2002 graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl and writer-director Marielle Heller's terrific new film adaptation do just that, following a teenager named Minnie through 1970s San Francisco, as she finds herself enraptured and eventually seduced by her mother's boyfriend, Monroe. Along the way, she deals with family, friends, and the other usual hallmarks of growing up.
That choice, Heller told me, was designed to reflect the reality of growing up as a young woman in the United States. "I think as a society, we're just a little bit afraid of teenage girls, and we're definitely afraid of their sexuality," Heller said. "There's a desire to shelter girls and also to ignore what they might be feeling or experiencing. The result of that is if you're a teenage girl who's having thoughts about sex, you think something's wrong with you."
The film is filled with animated sequences from the pages of Minnie's diary. (Though fictional, Minnie, an amateur cartoonist, is a semi-autobiographical riff on Gloeckner herself.) In many of them, Minnie strides about the city, her legs too long or her thighs too thick. These sequences and the ones where the girl regards herself in the mirror explain why a girl like her might feel as if her body were not up to par subtly and more effectively than any speech about body positivity could.
In the film, Monroe (played by a desperately skeezy Alexander Skarsgård) is clearly in the wrong for sleeping with Minnie. Heller is very clear-eyed about his failures as the adult in the situation and how he is guilty of things far worse than bad judgment for sleeping with his girlfriend's teenage daughter.
Perhaps Diary's most revolutionary act is the way that it suggests that the story of a teenage girl should be just as universally worthy of our empathy as all of those stories about teenage boys we've seen over the years.
A theater actor by trade, Marielle Heller made her directing debut with Diary. Yet before it hit the silver screen, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, which opened this weekend, was a graphic novel written and illustrated by Phoebe Gloeckner published in 2002. Heller's sister gave her the book as a gift years ago, and she soon fell hard for the character Minnie. She tells Newsweek she began feeling a connection that hadn't ever resonated with the likes of other coming of age staples, such as American Pie and Superbad, which deconstruct the awkwardness (and farts) that comprise teenage boyhood. "[Diary] made me feel so much less alone. It made me feel like I wasn't a freak," she tells Newsweek. "I thought, Oh. This is what it feels like to be reflected in art."
So Heller approached Gloeckner with the idea of converting the book into a musical, and the author, while skeptical, gave her the green light because of her charm, persistence and vision. "I was just laughing. What does she want to do with a play? But she did it, and it was great," Gloeckner says. After a successful 2010 off-Broadway run, the story still felt fresh enough to evolve into something more. Heller began writing a screenplay that would bring Minnie's crucial story to the big screen and that would illustrate her as the funny, perceptive and vulnerable person she was. "We feel very comfortable seeing very fleshed out, flawed humans in men," Heller says, commenting that she was struck by the frank, often-flawed Minnie. "But when it comes to girls it can only be what we're comfortable with, idealized versions of themselves."
Three months before shooting, the 20-something Powley had to regress back to her old self, in a way. "I had to go further and think, Wait: How did I walk when I was a teenager? How did I hold myself? How did I speak?" She tells Newsweek that she modeled Minnie's style of walking on "a baby deer learning to walk," in the words of Heller. It's a fitting analogy: In a way, teenagers are young bucks with everything ahead of them, which is at once a frightening and a fantastic prospect. 041b061a72