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The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: Coming of Age Debuts • The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) d: Marielle Heller

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

“I think this makes me officially an adult. Right?”

Marielle Heller’s sister had gifted her the diaristic graphic novel “The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures” by Phoebe Gloeckner, and Heller instantly connected with it. She adapted it into a play and then, with Gloeckner’s blessing and film rights, into a script. With the help of The Sundance Institute, Heller built the cast and team of creatives that would help her bring her vision to life. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Coming of Age Debuts series with Heller’s 2015 film The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

Does watching The Diary of a Teenage Girl feel like we’re reading a diary?

It’s funny how the diary in the film is an audio one, recorded by Minnie, our protagonist and titular teenage girl. Is it weird that she’s an artist always using her hands but recording an audio diary? A bit. That being said, it’s not a gripe of ours at all, just something we noticed.

We really connected with this story of Minnie coming into her own sexuality and figuring out what that means, even if it’s not always in the best ways. Still, what Heller and Gloeckner give us (along with the stellar lead performance by Bel Powley) is a complicated character taking her own complicated path to figuring herself out, at the end of which we’ve seen true growth.

It helps that Alexander Skarsgård plays opposite her, even if it is a bit… shall we say awkward?… that they connect given that he plays her mom’s boyfriend and definitely someone who consciously makes the choice to sleep with a minor.

But that allows for a conversation about finding your own sexuality, and how complicated that window of time is when you have your own sexual awakening, which almost always is before the official age of the adult label of 18. And certainly Minnie isn’t shying away from sleeping with boys her own age either.

We also love Kristen Wiig, Christopher Meloni, and the rest of the cast. The look captured by cinematographer Brandon Trost, production designer Jonah Markowitz, and costume designer Carmen Grande (not to mention hair and makeup) bring this world to life.

It’s a fantastic film, albeit a challenging one, but one worth watching and discussing. Check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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