The Diary of a Teenage Girl Review: Same Story, New Faces

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In the genre of summer coming of age stories, The Diary of a Teenage Girl stands out by being progressive and non-judgmental. It does so unspectacularly, but it’s feeling of importance is no doubt infectious.

We follow Minnie (Bel Powley) as she navigates life as a newly sexually active woman in 1970s San Fransisco. The world she calls hole is initially whimsical and fun. She drinks with her mom (Kristen Wiig), sleep with her mom’s boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgaard), and partakes in the occasional light drug use.

Powley makes for a unique lead in the genre, as these films are usually populated by awkward young men instead of confident but not traditionally attractive young women. She sells her scenes with honestly and whit only someone of her age can pull off so surprisingly. Much to the film’s credit, her sexuality isn’t defined for her by the writers. Instead, she takes it as it comes to her and figures out how she feels afterwards. This is admirable both for a film coming out in 2015 and one that acknowledges these people existed long before 2015.

But despite all these crucial factors, The Diary of a Teenage Girl still manages feel a bit redundant. The protagonist and her facets may be important, but the events surrounding her don’t feel all that different from your standard coming-of-age film. This movie definitely goes darker than what we’re used to for the genre, but it doesn’t say anything different.

Still, this genre has proven to have serious legs simply because filmmakers seem to have a lot of passion about the subject. That’s why The Diary of a Teenage Girl still manages to come out in top. It’s strong characters and ideas are enough to single it out as one of the summer’s most affecting films, even though it’s not the most original. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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