Sundance 2015: ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ a perfect film-adaptation come to life
Marielle Heller made her Directorial debut this year with her film adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s autobiographical novel ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl,’ wowing audiences at the screening and capturing the attention of Sony Pictures who bought the rights to distribute it.
The novel itself was already praised by critics and fans alike but with a perfect cast and wonderfully creative cinematography, the film-adaptation is sure to win over audiences later on this year. The film focuses on the budding sex life of a 15-year-old girl, which comes with its own obstacles when turning the material into a film, but Heller’s screenplay did a fantastic job bringing the source-material to life without sacrificing the content or turning gratuitous.
That content may be hard to digest without the right context, since the film follows Minnie Goetz (played by Bel Powley) as she begins a sexual relationship with Monroe (played by Alexander Skarsgard) who is the current boyfriend of her mother Charlotte (played by Kristen Wiig). A young-woman barely into her teenage-years having an affair with a man more than twenty-years older than herself isn’t the usual love-triangle that we are accustomed to seeing in a film, but Gloeckner’s original content was thankfully left unaltered for the project. You can add the on-going interests Minnie has in several of her classmates to this hidden-affair, and you get just a peek at the complicated character that Bel Powley is playing in the project.
The rest of the broken family unit is completed with Minnie’s younger sister Gretel (played by Abigail Wait), and her stepdad Pascal (played by Christopher Meloni). While the stepdad is more often the voice of reason in the film, the two young girls hardly spend anytime with him since Minnie’s mother divorced him. The biological father in the film is hardly mentioned and is, for the most part, non-existent.
The film circles the confusing doctrine that children follow when learning about love and sex, having almost no disconnection from each other, and how many young-lovers believe that each of the two plays a crucial role in finding the other. Minnie finds these sort of life-lessons in several of her young relationships, with a classmate named Ricky (played by Austin Lyon), her best-friend Kimmie (played by Madeleine Waters) and her friend Chuck (played by Quinn Nagle). There is even young Tabatha (played by Margarita Levieva) who is a young lesbian that seems to be almost aloof to the same pitfalls and questions that Minnie has about love and sex.
One of the more important aspects of the film, Minnie is both adventurous and insecure. The film depicts Minnie as a more realistic teenager than most films that tackles the same subject matter, without painting her as either a free-spirit, or a wallflower. The film should be a breakout-role for Bel Powley, who easily shares the screen with Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard.