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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

January 17th, 2016

The Diary of a Teenage Girl - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
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The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The Diary of a Teenage Girl opened with amazing reviews and even scored some major Season Nominations. However, it never really caught on with moviegoers. When this happens, there's the chance the film can be dismissed as one aimed solely at critics and not the average moviegoer.

The Movie

Before we get to the plot synopsis, there is a point I need to make. The movie is very episodic, which makes sense, as the setup is us listening to the audio diary of a teenage girl. Hence the name. However, this does make giving a plot synopsis more difficult, as smaller spoilers are sprinkled throughout and spoilers for one part of the film bleed into others.

The film is set in 1970s San Francisco and focuses on 15-year old Minnie Goetze, whom we first meet just after she had sex for the first time. When she gets home, she grabs a tape recorder and begins an audio diary. Her first story is how she lost her virginity. Her mother, Charlotte, divorced her dad, Pascal, and is now dating Monroe. Minnie develops romantic feelings for Monroe.

One night, Charlotte can't go to the bar with Monroe, so she tells Monroe to take Minnie instead. She's not mother of the year material. After Minnie is drunk, she and Monroe begin to flirt and Monroe is very receptive. He's not boyfriend of the year material. The pair begin to have a sexual relationship and this causes changes in other parts of Minnie's life. She gains confidence and becomes more assertive, including acting out with her friend, Kimmie. The boost in confidence helps her get a boyfriend, while she also sends a sample of her work to an Indie comic book artist, Aline Kominsky. However, this confidence is built on a secret that can't stay hidden for long.

I'm of two minds when it comes to this movie. There are a lot of very good parts, including the acting from Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, and others. Additionally, it is refreshing to see a movie about this subject from the woman's point of view. If you've seen This Film is Not Yet Rated, female sexuality is still punished by the ratings board more heavily than male sexuality. Finally, I really liked the style of the movie, including the animated elements. On the downside, Minnie Goetze's sexual awakening is frequently uncomfortable. We are talking stone man, stoned crying man, saying he loves you level of uncomfortable. It was also frequently frustrating. Minnie makes a lot of mistakes, which can be frustrating to watch, but it is understandable, because 15-year olds are not known for making good decisions. That's one of the reasons there's an age of consent. Speaking of which, Minnie is 15 and Monroe is 35. Shouldn't this be a bigger deal? I don't know what the age of consent was in California in the 1970s, (I sure as hell am not going to Google that. I already have a weird enough search history thanks to this job. I don't want it any weirder.) but no one seems to address this issue.

Overall it is still a good movie and I do recommend seeing it, but I'm not as enthusiastic as the average critic.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD begin with an audio commentary track with the director, Marielle Heller, and two of the lead actors, Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgard. Up next is a 23-minute long making of featurette. There is also a Q&A session with Marielle Heller, Bel Powley, and Alexander Skarsgard. The Blu-ray has this, as well as 5 minutes of deleted scenes. This is a really good selection of extras, especially for a limited release.

The Blu-ray costs $25, compared to $23 for the DVD. The Blu-ray is definitely the better deal.

The Verdict

The Diary of a Teenage Girl tells a very good story in a very real way. Too real at times. Uncomfortably real at times. It is worth checking out and the extras on the Blu-ray lift it to a solid purchase. I can't wait to see what's next for Marielle Heller and Bel Powley.

Filed under: Video Review, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Christopher Meloni, Alexander Skarsgård, Kristen Wiig, Marielle Heller, Bel Powley, Madeleine Waters