Jungle
The Diary of a Teenage Girl

There’s no better way to understand a person than to read their diary. It’s their most personal thoughts and ideas, fears and worries. Teenagers can be especially hard to understand. The Diary of a Teenage Girl isn’t your typical coming-of-age story, providing an unconventional window into the life of a 15-year-old girl who is exploring her own sexuality and feelings of love and acceptance.

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl takes place in 1970s San Francisco and opens with Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) just after she had sex for the first time. It wasn’t with a boy from school, though, but with her mom’s much older boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). The entire film is about Minnie losing her virginity and becoming what she believes is a woman. Suffice it to say her and Monroe’s relationship is rather complicated, especially when she sees it as love while he just views it as sex.

 

The film does a good job at getting into the mindset of a teen like Minnie. She views herself as ugly and overweight, and Monroe is the first person who gives her any sort of attention. It’s no wonder she’s drawn to him. As Minnie explores her sexuality, she quickly learns that life and love is not all hearts and rainbows. It can be a complicated, jumbled up mess sometimes.

 

One of the strongest elements of The Diary of a Teenage Girl is its performances. Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, and Kristen Wiig are quite the trifecta together. Powley exudes maturity, as sometime you have to remind yourself that this is supposed to be a 15-year-old girl we’re talking about. Skarsgård nails down the creepy role perfectly, too. You can definitely see he’s taking advantage of this girl, but there are moments where he’s vulnerable as well; moments where Minnie is clearly in charge. Wiig, as Minnie’s often drug-laced mother, often ignores her daughter, but does manage to truly love her when push comes to shove. Their performances feel real and don’t hinder the story.

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is not an easy watch and is meant to reach beyond your comfort zone. It simply presents this story and leaves the judging up to our own thoughts. That’s primarily why I was disappointed with how it ends, as I feel there were no repercussions for Monroe’s actions. He’s the adult in this situation, regardless of anything else going on, and should be treated as such. Regardless, the film breaks down the complexity of being a teenager going through these feelings and delivers something much more simple to understand.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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