In the unofficial ‘Book of Hollywood Double Standards’, only teenage boys are allowed to have sex drives. We’re up to our eyeballs with horny boys, but girls are either all virginally waiting for Mr Right or slutty tramps. So yay for US indie drama ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’, which breaks the rules with Caitlin Moran-levels of brutal honesty (and funniness).
This is the story of precocious 15-year-old Minnie (British actress Bel Powley, terrific), growing up in 1970s San Francisco. Minnie’s hilarious diary also gives us the voiceover. Her hippie Mum (Kristen Wiig), unwilling to set boundaries, lets her daughter join in her boozy, coke-fuelled parties. Dangerously bright and curious, Minnie slips into a sexual relationship with her mum’s easygoing boyfriend Munroe, played Alexander Skarsgård (who makes his character likeable and easygoing, but never lets you forget he is one weak douchebag). At 35, Munroe might actually be less mature than Minnie is.
Directed by first-timer Marielle Heller, ‘Diary’ is based on an acclaimed hybrid novel by Phoebe Gloeckner that mixes words with comic strips. Same goes for the film. Minnie wants to be an artist and her illustrations fill the screen. In one, she draws herself stomping through San Francisco like King Kong with enormous thunder thighs, legs covered in stubble. This is how Minnie feels inside: painfully ugly.
What a ballsy film and honest too. Minnie is trying to work out what kind of woman she wants to be – constructing herself out of drugs, alcohol, Iggy Pop and random sex with random people. I can’t think of another film that nails being a 15 year-old girl – when you can feel like you want the ground to open up and swallow you whole, and more alive than you’ll ever feel again – sometimes in the same moment.