The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The eponymous teenage girl (Bel Powley), aka Minnie, loses her virginity to diary-of-a-teenage-girlher mother’s boyfriend, Monroe (Kristen Wiig/Alexander Skarsgard) – don’t worry, they “aren’t possessive.” Obviously that should not have been the only obstacle, and she knows this isn’t ideal, but in her words, she’s ugly, and who knows how many offers will come her way.

So this isn’t one of those easily watchable movies, it’s not “enjoyable” or “comfortable.” It’s awkward in the ‘He only sleeps with my Mom or she’d suspect something’ kind of way that rings true for those of us who put up with our mother’s creepy boyfriends in our own childhoods, but true in diary-of-teenage-girlthe way that we’ve buried way down deep and aren’t anxious to revisit.

Don’t worry, the awkwardness doesn’t end there – anyone for random cartoon penises? Our heroine isn’t exactly likeable – relatable, maybe, but self-involved like any teenager, won’t stop talking about herself, only we don’t have the luxury of sending her to her room. And in a movie about a young girl being bedded by her mother’s boyfriend, she shouldn’t be the villain. And, okay, she’s not: Skarsgard’s 1970s mustache is, but my sympathy for her ran short.

file_608469_diary-of-a-teenage-girlDon’t get me wrong – on the whole, I’m still liking this film. It’s bold and unconventional, frank and non-judgemental, which, given the topic, is refreshing. Bel Powley is self-possessed, mixing sexual, spiritual and artistic awakening confidently. Kristen Wiig shows a lot of restraint in her role from the back seat. And writer\director Marielle Heller bravely bears witness without passing judgment – but it’ll make you squirm.

That’s the point, I guess. The diary of any teenage girl would make you squirm. I kept a diary myself – luckily not as a teenager (that was my poetry writing period, which, believe me, is worse) but as a little girl. It’s MN_poster_PRINT_Final_lowsilver and has a unicorn on the front and stickers of Joey McIntyre from The New Kids on the Block, aka, my former future husband, littering the inside covers. The sickly-sweet pink pages feature lots of my extra-large loopy handwriting talking about boys, recess, how wonderful I was, and what a rotten cook my mother was, and would always be. Cringe-worthy stuff. Reminds me of a documentary I watched a while back called Mortified Nation – a series of events across North America where people stand at a microphone and read embarrassing excerpts from childhood diaries. Audiences laugh warmly along with the reader, who through some form of catharsis realizes that whatever mortifying inner thoughts we had as a tortured teenager, most were pretty commonly shared. And in a way it’s nice to look back on a time when we were young and innocent and everything was fresh and exciting, and we were self-absorbed enough to wallow in it, and to write it down for posterity, as if anyone would care.

Did you keep a diary in your youth? Is it filled with sexual transgressions? Does it tell of a wild and misspent youth? Are you embarrassed? Would you stand up and read it aloud to a room full of strangers?

 

Would you print an excerpt from it in the comments?

 

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22 thoughts on “The Diary of a Teenage Girl

  1. alicjajohnson

    Haha “skarsgards mustache is” (forgive me if I spelled that wrong). Part of the reason I love your writing, Jay, is that you’re so great at tastefully putting in jabs that we can’t help chuckling at! Lovely review, as always.

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  2. John Charet

    Great review 🙂 I have not seen this yet, but it does look like that it could be worth a watch even If it ends up disappointing. Speaking of Kristen Wiig, did you see her in last year’s comedy-drama The Skeleton Twins, which co-starred another former SNL member Bill Hader? I thought that was very good. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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    1. Jay Post author

      I saw that on an airplane, yes!
      I thought it was quite good too, different from them, which is nice. But I think if you can really do comedy, then you can do anything. I do remember one scene, which was an extended sing-along, man, that one got me!

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  3. Sarca

    I still have mine…kept one from grade 7 and intermittently until after I got married. Still have them. I was thinking of doing something on the ol’ blog. I just might…

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  4. Carrie Rubin

    Any diary I might have started I trashed later. The thought of it falling into the wrong hands kept me from keeping one. The only one I kept was one I wrote throughout the second grade. It’s cute and benign. Things like what I ate that day, something mean my sister did to me, etc. Nothing I’d die over if someone found. 🙂

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  5. fragglerocking

    I think my diary is in a box hidden in the loft and no way would I read it or share any of it’s contents, I couldn’t bear the angst! I loved Mr Skarsgard (woteva) in TruBlood and Generation Kill is where I first fell in love with him, but that moustache, URK! Will miss the one.

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  6. Matt

    I kept a diary when I was 12 years old. I was really bad at it. I would just list stuff that happened that day and end with “It was a good day”.

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  7. Liz A.

    I’m at the point where I don’t watch movies that make me squirm anymore. At least, not ones that I anticipate being squirmy. I kept a diary in 3rd grade. Or 4th. Sometime in elementary school. I basically contained a lot of “I had a _____ day”. Not something that’s interesting in retrospect.

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  8. calensariel

    OML! I have a ton of journals, but not a one with any read-worthy events. I lived a very sheltered life. (PS. That didn’t change when I got married. NOW I think I’m on the verge of becoming a possible hell-raiser! 😉 )

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  9. kmSalvatore

    I like movies that make me squirm, that means I’m thinking about it.. And as for diarys….. Tired once and my brothers brought it to school and let every one read it… I was in 5 th grade… So then and there I learned, I never ever put any thing in writing.

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