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A Review of "The Diary of a Teenage Girl"

Updated on May 22, 2017
"The Diary of a Teenage Girl" is a 2015 American film, based from the graphic novel "The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures" written by Phoebe Gloeckner.
"The Diary of a Teenage Girl" is a 2015 American film, based from the graphic novel "The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures" written by Phoebe Gloeckner.

Out of 138 reviews, 129 were in favor of "The Diary of a Teenage Girl." Rotten Tomatoes gave an approval rating of 93% while 73% of the audience liked it. The site's Critics Consensus assessed the movie as "Boldly unconventional and refreshingly honest, Diary of a Teenage Girl is a frank coming-of-age story that addresses its themes -- and its protagonist -- without judgment."

Bel Powley as Minnie Goetze
Bel Powley as Minnie Goetze

The Story

The movie is set in 1976 San Francisco, with Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) as an unattractive 15-year-old girl who narrates her deepest curiosity and sex escapade through a tape recorder. Her recordings become her diary after she sleeps with her mother's boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard). Her inconceivable experience drives her to explore her sexual desires to her schoolmate Ricky, her friend Kimmie (Madeleine Waters) and a lesbian named Tabatha (Margarita Levieva). Her curiosity puts her in a very bad place when Tabatha brings her to a drug dealer who would give the drugs for free if Minnie sleeps with her. Having been away from home after her mom Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) found out about her affair with Monroe, Minnie realizes that she doesn't need anyone to make her feel good about herself. She then returns home with a thought of pursuing her dream as a cartoonist. She keeps the family intact with her younger sister Gretel and her mom, but politely dismisses Monroe.

The Message of the Movie

Sex, being a taboo subject was shown explicitly in the movie as an exposure that a teenager's environment is a big component of very bad decisions in the making. Minnie's mother Charlotte, boyfriend and their friends are just out in the open when drinking booze, smoking, taking drugs and talking about adult topics. This is not the kind of environment any child or teenager should be seeing. No wonder Minnie didn't have any reservations about doing anything crazy because she is surrounded by very bad behavior in a place where anyone should be safe -- home.

Minnie's sexual awareness started when she was left unsupervised with Monroe, whom she constantly bugged playfully by poking his ribs. When he placed his arms around Minnie and accidentally brushed his hand over her breast, she suddenly got curious if he had done that deliberately or not. This created a big curiosity and an opportunity came when Charlotte asked Monroe to take Minnie to the bar because she had other things to do --- definitely a wrong decision. Minnie's playfulness turned into flirting though Monroe was open to Minnie's thoughts. She then shocked him to an aboveboard conversation, luring him into sleeping with her. As expected, the old dirty guy took advantage of the young girl.

If Minnie was brought up in a decent environment and the people around her had principles, she wouldn't have gone far by sleeping with her mom's boyfriend. Hence, she wouldn't have done all the other sick things she did out of curiosity. She wouldn't have thought about exploring at such a young age just to make her feel good about herself.

The movie has incorporated comics and humor which made it graphically interesting and while it has illustrated the dirty side of a teenager's coming of age, the unconditional love of a mother was shown when Charlotte received Minnie in her arms upon her return without any interrogation. Minnie also realized that the most important thing anyone could have and preserve is self-respect.


The Diary of a Teenage Girl Bel Powley (Actor), Alexander Skarsgard (Actor), Marielle Heller (Director) Rated: R Format: DVD

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