Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Diary of a Teenage Girl Review

Oh man. Sometimes in life you bite off more than you can chew. I was attracted to The Diary of a Teenage Girl for two reasons. First, it was a movie that got praised at the Sundance Film Festival. Second, the critics thus far have praised it as it has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. This sounds like the perfect formula for me. I love indie movies and I seek out indie movies that get praised by the critics. However, I was slightly hesitant going into this one because I did know of the subject matter, but I decided to go for it anyways because I figured that I could handle it and I would come out with a positive experience. But holy cow was this heavy. I don't know exactly where the line is for in terms of what exactly is too heavy for me to handle. Usually I'm pretty good. But whatever that line is, it was crossed with this movie. I felt uncomfortable watching this movie. It felt wrong being in the theater and I wanted to leave. But I stuck through it and luckily I was in an empty theater so playing around on my phone was an option to distract me. No, this isn't a bad movie. But proceed with caution. Know what you are getting into before jumping right in.

That was a very vague paragraph, so allow me to go into a little bit more depth. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a movie where we get very personal with the deep, dark secrets of a teenage girl's life. Specifically, our main girl is 15 years old and has come to the point in her life where she has a huge desire to be sexually active. It's that weird moment in life where she is not quite an adult but her body wants to be an adult and do adulty things and her mother didn't really teach her the power of abstinence. In reality, her mother isn't the best example in the first place. So this girl goes for it. In the most awkward and uncomfortable way. She starts sleeping with her mom's boyfriend who is somewhere between 35 and 40. This is just a sick and uncomfortable romance. No man who is in his 30's should sleep with a teenage girl, especially not a girl who is not a legal adult. But they both love each other, so it's fine, right? WRONG! Call the cops and get that man arrested for sleeping with a minor. That's what was going through my mind. Now let's get one thing clear. The actress who plays our 15-year-old girl is 23 in real life, so nothing illegal actually happened in the filming of this movie. But she definitely has a baby face and pulls off 15 very well, so it's still disturbing, especially since Alexander Skarsgard is 39, which is 16 years her senior. Of course things get very complicated and since this girl has now become addicted to this sexual activity, she goes off with all kinds of people regardless of age, race, or even gender to satisfy her need for physical intimacy.

Yup. Like I said. This is very heavy. I'm not quite sure why so many people loved this so much, but I have an idea and it's a pretty darn good idea. This is an extremely honest coming of age drama that doesn't hold back. It attempts to dive deeply into what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl as she is going through this awkward phase of her life. We all know how it feels like to be a teenager. I don't need to go into detail about that. But this movie feels the need. Quite honestly it does a dang good job of showing what life can be like for a teenage girl and I guess that this honest, raw, unbridled look at the life of a teenage girl pleased a lot of people. So I guess it could please you as well, especially if you are familiar with the source material of which I didn't even know existed until I watched this movie. But personally I don't need explore in detail what goes on in the life of a teenage girl. I don't. But yet I did with this movie and it was uncomfortable.

In terms of the technical aspects of this movie, I do have to be an honest and say this was a very well shot movie. Our main girl is an aspiring artist and as the movie is told from her perspective, it seemed fitting for random artwork to come to life. There were times when animated butterflies started flying around or fireworks shot off in the background. She'd even talk to some animated characters sometimes and other times the whole movie turned animated for a few seconds. I thought that was a clever way to help paint the picture of what was going on in her mind. I also have to admit that the acting in the movie was good. Yes, Bel Powlie as our girl and Alexander Skarsgard as the old boyfriend did a good job. I just didn't care one bit about either of their characters. There was one girl that I did care about, though, and that was the mother who was played by Kristen Wiig. The whole time while her daughter and her boyfriend are doing this behind her back, you feel awful. She's already gone through a lot in her life up to this point. She didn't need to have her boyfriend cheat on her with her daughter. But then Kristen Wiig figures this out and holy freaking cow was her acting phenomenal. She gave an Oscar-worthy performance. I really hope that this movie gets completely ignored at the box office and by the Academy, but if Kristen Wiig were to get a nomination for best supporting actress, I would not complain.

In the end, this is not a movie that I would recommend you seeing. I went into this movie because it had raving reviews and it was an indie movie coming out of Sundance, but this is one of those instances where I actually disagree with critics. Yes, that does happen. This movie took things too far. We could've told a coming of age story that dove into the life of a teenage girl without getting graphic, detailed, and disturbing. There's plenty of those. Off the top of my head, The DUFF from earlier this year is one of them. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is another fantastic coming of age story from this year. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a movie that just doesn't need to be seen. I felt horrible while watching it. The girl was talking to the tapes telling no one to listen to them and I felt like I was invading her privacy. It was an awful experience. This is not a bad or poorly made movie, so I'm not going to give it an extremely bad grade, but it's just not one that I think the world needed. I really hope it just stays under the radar and disappears from theaters without many people seeing it. My grade for The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a 5/10.

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