You have to appreciate the gutsy turn “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” takes when it dares to enter in to a coming of age tale that is about as realistic as it can get. When our character Minnie begins realizing her own sexual attraction to her mother’s boyfriend, it comes off more as creepy and awkward, no matter how much dreamer Minnie tries to romanticize it. She paints the dynamic between her and her mom’s boyfriend Monroe as something of a realization of her adulthood, when really it’s downright hedonistic self satisfaction with absolutely no thought toward the consequences she and her would be lover may face.
Though Minnie finds it fun to tempt Monroe by sucking his finger during a play fight, it’s about as gross as you’d expect with a thirty year old man hitting on a fifteen year old girl. When they finally do sleep together, director Marielle Heller drives the point of Minnie’s coming of age, when post-coitus, Monroe proudly smears Minnie’s blood along his thigh. A lot of Minnie’s own affair with Monroe is pure pleasure, and its eventual fall out is very real, causing her to sink somewhat in to a darker world of drugs and drinking. It becomes especially harrowing when she begins to dabble in darker corners of her city as a means of coping with her pseudo-affections for Monroe.
Alexander Skarsgård is very good as the slimy Monroe who presents opportunities for Minnie to dabble in to areas of her life she’s always been afraid to visit. All the while star Bel Powley handles the material like a champ, providing a very unique turn as main character Minnie whose actions eventually transform in to self destruction and self inflicted punishment. Her own moral code and decisions will cause the viewer to consider time and time again whether they really like Minnie or not, and even when we close the film, it’s never a surefire bet that she’s a good person that will redeem herself in the future. For her it’s something of a dreamy fantasy she’s fulfilling, while it looks to the objective viewer, like an older man preying on something of an idyllic young girl.
If I have any complaints it’s that Christopher Meloni and Kristen Wiig are wasted and never given a chance to really shine; especially Wiig who is given a smaller role that doesn’t compliment her ability to be funny or complex. “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is nonetheless an entertaining and often compelling drama comedy that dives head first in to the coming of age of a young woman, warts and all.
Featured in the stuffed blu-ray is an audio commentary with director Marielle Heller and Actors Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgård. The commentary is fine enough with some fun anecdotes, and information about the filmmaking process. There is a trio of deleted scenes all of which clock in at an average of two and half minutes.
“Marielle’s Journey: Bringing the Diary to Life” is a twenty three minute look at director Marielle Heller’s history with the source material, the look at the stage adaptation and the transition to feature film. There are interviews with the cast and crew, a look at the themes and details of the narrative, including characters, the process of casting, the process of including the sex as a plot element, the film’s tone and so much more. There’s a twenty five minute Q&A with Marielle Heller, Alexander Skarsgård and Bel Powley with moderator Jenelle Riley who engages in a very informative Q&A. Finally there’s the original theatrical trailer.