Welcome to San Francisco in the 1970s. It's all about free love, drug use and wild sex... but what if that's happening to a 15-year-old girl? 'The Diary Of A Teenage Girl' is a somewhat murky tale which asks you to cast aside judgement and accept it for what it is - the brutally honest coming-of-age tale of a determined young woman.
Minnie (Bel Powley) is an laid-back teenage artist who has just had sex for the very first time... only problem is, it's with her mother Charlotte's (Kristen Wiig) current boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). As she flourishes into a period of sexual prosperity, Minnie is swept up in the ebb and flow of the characters who inundate her life - but can she keep emotional attachment at arm's length forever?
This film truly walks a fine line between sexual exploitation and love. Fortunately, Bel Powley is such a forceful entity that it's always clear who's in control. She's an absolute powerhouse as Minnie, bringing this film to life with an honest and sometimes confronting perspective of the world. Nonetheless, there are parts which are difficult to observe; a girl coming to power and a man twice her age who should know better is inevitably a contentious affair.
What works best is when Monroe develops an addiction of sorts for Minnie. He knows he shouldn't be involved in the situation - for many reasons - but can't refuse. Skarsgård ensures his performance is never sleazy; if anything, he plays Monroe as slightly simple, at the whim of the two women who happen to be mother and daughter. Wiig proves again she's equally as equipped to tackle drama as comedy, presenting Charlotte as a loving yet critical parent - nuanced, conflicted, real.
Bel Powley is an absolute powerhouse as Minnie, bringing this film to life with an honest and sometimes confronting perspective of the world.
The other major drawcard to this movie are the sights and sounds. Despite its digital origin, the warmth of San Francisco on screen easily give a filmic illusion, with desaturation and washed-out shots void of blacks a great success for cinematographer Brandon Trost. The complimentary music brings the 1970s to life, with songs from Heart, The Rose Garden, T. Rex and The Stooges, and original tunes from Nate Heller.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking 'The Diary Of A Teenage Girl' is the latest teen comedy; this film deals with some pretty heavy material. It may be more than some people are eager to stomach, but the real and true characters in this film bring some much-needed gravitas to the big screen.