Category: the diary of a teenage girl
NYTIMES.COM – “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” about a 15-year-old, Minnie, who has an affair with her mother’s boyfriend, was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival last month, and now the organizers of the annual New Directors/New Films series in New York have chosen it as their opening-night selection.
Marielle Heller is making her directorial debut with “Diary,” which is set in 1970s San Francisco and stars Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgard. Ms. Heller adapted it from the illustrated novel by Phoebe Gloeckner.
Writing about the film for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis said, it “pulls off the tricky feat of honoring Minnie’s sexuality without exploiting it or her.”
“Diary” will screen March 18 to kick off the series, run by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Organizers also announced the rest of the lineup, which includes selections unveiled earlier like the Cannes prize winners “The Tribe” and “White God.” See filmlinc.com for more details.
bustle.com – “It was important to layer their relationship and not make him solely a predator,” says Alexander Skarsgard of his Diary of a Teenage Girl character. In the film, Skarsgard plays a man who’s sleeping with his girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter, played by newcomer Bel Powley, in 1970s San Francisco. Based on a graphic novel adapted by writer/director Marielle Heller, the movie unfolds without side-stepping around the controversial issues at hand.
“It was very emotional,” Skarsgard says of watching the film for the first time at Sundance Film Festival 2015. “It’s always fun when you watch it for the first time to listen to the audience and see what they find funny.” Like what? “Bel giving me a blowjob, apparently that was funny.”
The 22-year-old actress from the UK and the True Blood star shared at least a dozen sex scenes together as teenage Minnie and 30something Monroe — some carnal, others funny, and a few even sweet. But for all of them, Skarsgard has the same advice: “You can’t over think it. You have to be in the moment and play the character,” he says. “Minnie in many ways is like a young child, very juvenile and inexperienced. I thought it would be interesting if Monroe had that quality as well,” he explains. “He can almost be like the same age as Minnie in some moments. He’s like a teenage boy. But then he catches himself: ‘Oh shit, I’m in bed with a 15-year-old girl, and this is my girlfriend’s daughter,’ and then he becomes suddenly a mature grown-up guy now. Minnie symbolizes youth, something he’s desperately holding on to.”
The Diary of a Teenage Girl is neither a cautionary tale or a preachy anti-sex PSA. Actually, it’s the opposite. ”It’s something I’d never seen before: A coming-of-age story about a girl that’s raw, addressing issues that are taboo,” Skarsgard says. “These themes are often legitimized when it comes to guys, but for girls, we aren’t supposed to talk about sex the way Minnie does.”
As writer/director Heller pointed out, setting the film in the 1970s gives the audience a “buffer” when it comes to accepting Minnie’s sexual promiscuity and experimentation. “It’s in the wake of free love,” Skarsgard says. “It was a time of experimentation and letting your kids make their own mistakes. Sexually as well, experimenting with sleeping with a guy, a girl, two girls…”
Skarsgard has noble hopes for the film’s reception: “I hope that girls see this film and realize they’re not weird,” he says. “That it’s OK as a young girl to think about sex. This movie never feels like, ‘Well I’m a female filmmaker making a story about a young girl, this is so brave of me…’ it just feels like such a true story.”
vulture.com – If you’ve been missing Alexander Skarsgård’s naked torso since the finale of True Blood, never fear. There’s plenty of Skarsgård to be seen in The Diary of A Teenage Girl, one of the highlights of this very sexy Sundance. Diary is the directorial debut of actress Marielle Heller, who wrote the screenplay adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel herself. The film tells the story of precocious 15-year old artist Minnie (newcomer Bel Powley), who lives with her very permissive single mother (Kristen Wiig) in 1976 San Francisco, and is in the midst of experiencing a sexual awakening in the very capable and surprisingly not lecherous hands of her mother’s boyfriend, twenty years her senior (Skarsgård, 38). “I just had sex. Holy shit!” is the first line of the movie, narrated from Minnie’s thoughts. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the distribution rights and Powley, who’s 22 and pulls off an American accent so seamlessly you’d never suspect she’s British, is enjoying the well-deserved heaps of praise and “It Girl” status Cary Mulligan enjoyed back in 2009 for the similar (but more creepy and less naked) An Education. Jada Yuan caught up with the pair as they scarfed down hamburgers to talk unorthodox auditions, on-screen chemistry, and why the ‘70s were the golden age of mustaches.
First of all, why did both of you want to sign on for this? It’s a beautiful story and beautifully told, but there are a lot of sex scenes.
Powley: I think it’s a really important story for women and for young girls and I think it needed to be told. The character of Minnie, everything she does, the way she feels, the way she acts really resonated with me. It’s what I was like as a teenage girl and I think it’s going to resonate with every woman. I was also 15 seven years ago, so I can remember.
Were you that precocious at 15?
Powley: Yeah, I was, at times. You don’t have to have an affair with your mum’s boyfriend to be able to relate with Minnie and how she acts. I think it’s just more the extremity of feelings that you have when you’re a teenager and like, the frustration and when you’re really hormonal and you flip between emotions.
Skarsgård: And she’s not always precocious. I feel like sometimes she’s like a little child. And I feel like Monroe has that quality as well. I think that’s kind of how they find each other in a way. There are moments where he’s like a 15-year-old boy and then he pulls himself out of that, like “Oh, no, now I’m a grown man.” And I think that gives life to their relationship.
When you first read the script did you have any pause? Would you say it’s an inappropriate relationship?
Powley: I think, for us, playing the characters, as Minnie and, well, I guess, as Monroe – I don’t want to speak for him – no, it’s not inappropriate. It felt appropriate. I was playing a character who’s in love with another person. It was completely fine. I think it’s up to you whether you think it’s inappropriate or not.
Skarsgård: This is a grown man in a relationship with his girlfriend’s daughter. It felt like it was a real challenge to make that last for an hour and a half and make it interesting and make it layered, so it’s not just him preying on this young girl. That was kind of what drew me to the project initially. And also the fact that I felt like I’d never seen this film before. It felt really brave and really truthful about the fact that teenage girls do actually think about sex. And you never see that in movies, ‘cause they’re always like, “Oh, I just want to get married, and I want, like, a house and beautiful kids.” This is very real and visceral.
indiewire.com – Girls just wanna have fun. And girls just wanna get laid. Hey, there are no judgments in Marielle Heller’s half-excellent coming-of-age tale, “The Diary Of A Teenage Girl.” Provocative, brutally honest, R-rated formative year stories for females are certainly in short supply, and so Heller’s vividly drawn debut feature certainly delivers in this regard, with a rich and expressively effervescent bildungsroman story. But like so many Sundance narratives this year, Heller’s movie begins to overstate its case and loses hold of its charms in its darker, overlong second half, yet manages some deft navigation of potentially distasteful subjects and tricky source material.
Based on cartoonist Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novels, “The Diary Of A Teenage Girl” is about a sexually precocious adolescent girl in 1970s San Francisco who begins a complex affair with her mother’s boyfriend. The film undoubtedly introduces us to some great new talent: Minnie Goetze (an outstanding Bel Powley) is a typical teenage girl. She’s curious, wants to be loved, and is trying to discover who she is. But the artistic and inquisitive Minnie is perhaps a little bit more sexually curious than most girls her age, and the anything-goes culture around her is certainly not disapproving of this exploration. Her carefree mother Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) parties and uses drugs liberally with her boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård).
Already enamored with “the handsomest man in the world” Monroe, Minnie’s new normal sets the stage for a fateful night when the two cross the line. They quickly launch into a complicated, torrid love affair where both Minnie and Monroe have to tiptoe around their feelings. Excited about losing her virginity and dying to tell someone about the exhilarating clandestine world of adulthood she’s entered, the wide-eyed Minnie begins to document all her thoughts about love, sex, and Monroe through her art, perhaps dictating far too much evidence into her tape recorder. As you might imagine, it doesn’t end well.
Heller has technique to burn, employing inventive elements of animation mixed with live-action as Minnie uses her burgeoning sexuality and womanhood to find her place. Sharply observed, funny, and textured, the opening acts of “Diary Of A Teenage Girl” are endearing, clever, and intoxicating, and Minnie is completely believable.
As Monroe, the laid back but exploitative dude who begins to unexpectedly catch feelings, Alexander Skarsgård is quite good. Wiig doesn’t have as much to do, but after many frustratingly uneven serious performances of late (“The Skeleton Twins,” “Hateship Loveship”), she nails this role. A particularly hilarious scene-stealer is Christopher Meloni, as Pascal, Minnie’s mom’s uptight psychologist ex-boyfriend who continues to insist upon being a father figure to Minnie and her nosy sister Gretel (Abby Wait). But ‘Teenage Girl’ is for the most part the Bel Powley show. This British actress is amazingly genuine, and the movie rests on the shoulders of her effortlessly charming performance. She anchors the movie and it wouldn’t work half as well as it does without her.
‘Teenage Girl’ features good aesthetics encapsulating the counterculture era, with a cool soundtrack (The Stooges, T-Rex, Heart, Nico, Mott The Hoople) and great art direction, despite the period-accurate browny, mustard color palate. But at 102-minutes, “The Diary Of A Teenage Girl” simply can’t sustain its vivacious nature. Heller’s picture overdoes its “I just want to be loved” theme, and the romantic obsessiveness of the second half becomes frustrating. We want to see Minnie’s exploration of adulthood, and not always how it simply relates to Monroe.
As Minnie’s life begins to fall apart, she starts to use sex as a self-destructive weapon instead of a tool for self-discovery. While that seems fair enough given this particular crisis, the movie begins to take on miserablist qualities common to Sundance, and what began as idiosyncratic and fresh starts to feel more familiar.
Still, Heller is due a lot of credit. She takes objectionable, potentially repulsive subject matter and imbues it with honesty, fairness, and compassion without prejudice. Heller’s film can also be heartbreakingly authentic in its depiction of teenage wonder, infatuation, confusion, and insecurity. Powley’s poised, incredibly convincing portrayal also connects very real adolescent ideas of desire and exploration to the emotional inability to manage the fallout. Perhaps a little editing could have fixed some of the nagging second half issues, and it might have fulfilled its promise of being great and not just very good. Nevertheless, as uneven as it can be at times in its last 15 minutes, Marielle Heller has crafted promising debut that evokes the idea of unlocking the secret world of teenage girls and letting us live inside the special little jewel box, if ever so briefly. [B/B+]