HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Diary of a Teenage Girl
HTS Overall Score:72
Teen dramas and coming of age stories have been around for decades and decades, with “Stand By Me” being my personal favorite in the genre. I still watch that classic 80’s tale of boys becoming a semblance of men over and over again as the years go by. Most of the tales tend to center around boys becoming men, but very few coming of age tales actually center around a female’s journey from childhood towards womanhood, and even fewer are anything more than teeny bopper fluff pieces that are only viewable by the under 14 year old crowd. “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is based off of the same titles book by Phoebe Gloeckner, and takes a photograph of the life of a 15 year old girl who is about to get in over her head with some very serious subject matter.
It’s 1976 and the place is San Francisco. Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is a 15 year old girl who has just done something that makes her feel more adult than she has felt her entire life. She has just had sex for the very first time and is walking around on air. The problem with the scenario isn’t just that she’s a 15 year old girl dipping her toes into something that she’s barely ready for, but the fact that she has just done the deed with her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skaarsgard). Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh, that is going to turn out FANTASTICALLY (and that is me being sarcastic). Enamored with the “adult” life she is now living, Minnie coasts along with her new partner until things start to fall apart. Monroe was never going to stay with her, as was obvious to us watching from the moment this interlude started, but Minnie has no concept of the fact. She’s just floating along until the train comes crashing down around her.
Expressing her emotions and feelings through her art, Minnie documents her experiences and raw emotions onto paper and ink, with her only verbal expression coming in the form of a tape recorded diary that we, the listener, are actually experiencing on film. Flowing with a drug induced sense of 1970’s cocaine, her drawings spill out onto the pages, chronicling a teenager’s incoherent and barely grasped concept of sexuality in a way that is both disturbing and hauntingly beautiful. When I said that things would crash and burn, they most certainly do. Minnie’s mother, Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) isn’t exactly the most attentive of parents as she is constantly searching for someone to fill the void that was left in her life after Minnie’s father left them. Monroe is the latest in a long string of men, and the simple mother has changed to a party girl that snorts coke off her left nail and is completely oblivious to the relationship between her boyfriend and daughter……right under her nose. However, this pyramid of lies can only go on for so long before mommy dearest finds out and every little happy lie that kept Minnie afloat comes crashing down around her ears.Now, alone and completely shattered, Minnie has to find some sort of balance in her life. A form of maturity and centering that will allow her to recover and actually take her first step into the adult world (even though she had assumed that sex was that gateway).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63281[/img]“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is an interesting, if not disturbing film. The sexuality in the film is never overly disgusting and I’ve seen much worse, but the creepiness factor of the interludes between Monroe and Minnie make one’s skin crawl. As much as that is a negative in my eyes, it also is a positive aspect in the movie, as that’s the EXACT sense we are supposed to get from the script. The drugs that Minnie takes, the stupidity that her mother is wrapped up in, and even her experience with Monroe is not what allows her to mature and move on. In fact it’s the exact opposite. These instances throughout the movie are the chains that drag her down and keep her in bondage. The old adage is that you have to pick yourself up and try, try again comes to mind here. These experiences in her life are what cause us to go. These painful experiences tear us down to rock bottom so that we can start to climb back upwards, and in doing so, climb higher than we were before we fell into the depths of depravity. Much like a drug addict reaching rock bottom, Minnie has had her innocence torn away, and has the choice of either staying in misery and pain, or climbing out of the hole she got herself into.
I see the point of the story. I really do, as the message is very poignant. What I can’t get over is the fact that the movie isn’t ENJOYABLE in my opinion. Minnie’s travels through the experiences in the film are heart breaking as well as disturbing (which I understand is part of the message). However, by the time we get to the portions of growth near the end, I felt like was beaten over the head with enough depravity and uncomfortable situations that I didn’t enjoy what I saw, as much as I can comprehend the message. I didn’t feel it was necessary to recreate 17 gazillion interludes between Monroe and Minnie, or see how easily she recovered from it. Coming from a family of intellectual psychologist oriented people, all I could see was a girl who was going to need therapy for the next dozen years, if not more.
Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue, nudity, drug use, language and drinking-all involving teens.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63289[/img]The 2.40:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray looks very pleasing from a technical standpoint, although a bit odd in the implementation. The film carries a very desaturated and pasty look to the image, as it tries to copy the golden and pastel colored color palate of the 1970s. Skin tones look good, although a little pallid at times, and colors look decently pleasing, especially those gold and pastel blues that like to permeate the screen. Fine detail can be simply amazing a majority of the time, with incredibly sharp and clear close ups and some very nice looking wide angle shots. The wide angle shots tend to be covered in a sort of gauzy haze that robs the image of some fine detail, but it appears to be an intentional effect that adds a sort of dreamy texture to the shots. Blacks are surprisingly deep and inky, as I was expecting some washed out levels after seeing the skin tones and gauzy haze over some shots. There is no artifacting that I could see and the disc looks about as perfect as the stylistic source material will allow.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63297[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is presented with a standard front heavy track that really focuses on the dialog more than anything else. The front sound stage is rather 2 dimensional, setting up the stage with a few panning effects and some directionality that comes to life during some of the weirder party moments more than anything. There is enough auditory detail in the surrounds to keep both back speakers working though, as the hypnotic music flows from all directions and simple sounds like a bedroom door slamming shut trickles through when appropriate. LFE is nice and simple, adding weight to the music and contributing to the weight of certain objects without being a powerhouse track that slams at every turn. It’s a good track, and does everything that is required of it without complaining.
• Deleted Scenes
• Marielle's Journey: Bringing The Diary to Life
• LA Film Festival Q&A with Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard and Marielle Heller
• Feature Commentary with Cast and Crew
Awkward and brazen, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is an uncomfortable experience watching a young girl being forced to come into adulthood at a younger than necessary age. It’s never exploitative, or inattentive, but rather a painful visage of what happens when you let yourself try the fruits of adulthood way too early. I enjoyed the ending message of the film, as well as the personal growth formed, but I just can’t get over the fact that the entire experience just felt oppressive and unsatisfying. The amount of sexuality in the film keeps me front recommending it to the viewers, but the themes of the film are definitely there for those of you who go in with the understanding of what I’ve said. Proceed with caution.
Starring: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgaard, Kristen Wiig
Directed by: Marielle Heller
Written by: Phoebe Gloeckner (Novel), Marielle Heller (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Sony Classics
Runtime: 104 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 19th, 2016
Buy The Diary of a Teenage Girl On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Proceed with Caution
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