Diary of a Teenage Girl
DIRECTOR: MARIELLE HELLER
CAST: BEL POWLEY, KRISTEN WIIG, ALEXANDER SKARSGåRD
Phoebe Gloeckner’s semi-autobiographical graphic novel Diary of a Teenage Girl, first published to acclaim in 2002, was first adapted for the stage by Marielle Heller, then brought to the screen with an exceptional Bel Powley in the role of Minnie Goetze, a 15-year-old aspiring cartoonist in 1979 San Francisco who begins a tumultuous affair with a much older man (Alexander Skarsgård) who, rather inconveniently, is the boyfriend of her mother (Kristen Wiig). A pitch-perfect evocation of ‘70s bohemia, and the travails of growing up in it, frank, absolutely honest, and quietly heartbreaking.
Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel is one of my favorite books on adolescence, which seems, to me, to be basically a state of mental illness. Everything is so vivid and portentous to the teenage mind, a vividness that can be both exhilarating and blinding. Marielle Heller’s translation manages that intensity so well, while also making interesting visual and technical choices about how to incorporate the graphic elements of the source material into the movie.