'The Diary of a Teenage Girl' [Blu-Ray+Digital HD]
(Christopher Meloni, Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard, Kristen Wiig, Madeleine Waters, et al / Blu-Ray / R / 2016 / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Overview: In 1976 San Francisco, Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is growing up at the crossroads of the fading hippie movement and the dawn of punk rock. Like most teenage girls, Minnie 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 Rutherford (Alexander Skarsgård). What follows is a sharp, funny and provocative account of one girl's sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment.
Blu-Ray Verdict: Set in the San Francisco of 1976, 'The Diary of a Teenage Girl' can best be described as "challenging", chiefly because it deals with the sexual adventures of a fifteen year-old.
Minnie (Bel Powley) decides she wants to lose her virginity to her mother's 34 year-old boyfriend Munroe (Alexander Skarsgård, statuesque but horrendously moustached). Their initial coupling is very sleazy (neither takes off their shirt), but they do it again, and again, and again, as Minnie discovers she's rather fond of sex. Meanwhile she details her experiences on audio cassette, forming the narrative voice-over of the film.
So, challenging. Although Powley is in her twenties, there's no getting away from the fact that she's playing a fifteen year-old, and that that fifteen year-old is frequently shown in varying states of undress, often in sexual situations. It's not pornography, but I think there are still moral difficulties with this. Another challenging aspect of the film is the use of animation superimposed over the live action - personally I liked this as a narrative device, but some may find it a bit arty-farty.
The film is in many ways predictable: the instant Minnie decides to record her diary on tape you will know someone else will stumble across the recordings; and you'll also have a fair idea that Minnie's free-loving, heavy-drinking, drug-taking mother will eventually learn a valuable lesson in parental responsibility. And Minnie exhibits the wise-beyond-her-years attitude that all teenagers have in American films and television.
I'm not sure whether or not I enjoyed the film. The story is entertaining, and the performances uniformly good - but there is that issue of a fifteen year-old character shown having sex - and with a man two decades her senior, no less. Some fifteen year-olds do have sex, sometimes with older partners, and I'm accepting of that being portrayed on film - but I'd prefer it to be shown more discreetly. But that would have made this a different film. Anyway, definitely check 'The Diary of a Teenage Girl' out for yourselves and make up your own minds; for isn't that what this movie business is all about, after all. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Marielle's Journey: Brining The Diary To Life
LA Film Festival Q&A with Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard and Director Marielle Heller
Commentary with Cast and Director