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Marielle Heller
Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard, Kristen Wiig, Chris Meloni
Writing Credits:
Marielle Heller

A teen artist living in 1970s San Francisco enters into an affair with her mother's boyfriend.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$52,334 on 4 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 1/19/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Marielle Heller and Actors Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgard
• “Marielle’s Journey: Bringing the Diary to Life” Featurette
• Q&A with Marielle Heller, Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgard
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews and Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Diary of a Teenage Girl [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 14, 2016)

Based on its title, one might expect 2015’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl to be a “PG” effort in the Judy Blume vein. Instead, the “R”-rated Diary offers something darker than the standard “young adult” fare.

Set in San Francisco circa 1976, we meet Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley), a 15-year-old who just became sexually active. The complication? She loses her virginity to Monroe Rutherford (Alexander Skarsgård), her divorced mother Charlotte’s (Kristen Wiig) 35-year-old boyfriend

This doesn’t stand as a one-off mistake on Monroe’s part, as he continues to have sex with Minnie. We follow this situation along with other aspects of Minnie’s sexual awakening.

After I wrote this review’s intro, I found out that there’s a series of Christian “young adult” books under the title Diary of a Teenage Girl. I can’t help but wonder how many of that series’ fans saw this Diary - and how scarred it left them.

The Diary under discussion here offers a debauched experience, and one that seems much more ambivalent than normal for its genre. Normally a tale like this would offer high drama related to the combination of sex, drugs, alcohol and statutory rape.

However, Diary presents all this in a fairly matter of fact manner. It views everything through Minnie’s prism, which means we see the wild, adventurous side of her journey rather than the dark, seedy take. In a normal movie, Minnie would spiral out of control before she finds redemption and winds up happily ever after. Oh, and Monroe would land in jail.

None of that happens here. Granted, Diary does conclude in an oddly peppy manner. While it might not be the trite Hollywood ending, the finale does seem strangely cheerful given all that goes down in the story.

Overall, though, Diary comes from a “judgment-free zone”, which I like and dislike. On one hand, I find it refreshing that the movie lacks the cliché sentiments and attitudes, especially given the era and location it depicts. San Francisco circa 1976 would’ve been a hedonistic place, so one can accept that the seediness on display would’ve been more accepted there/then.

On the other hand, though, Diary crosses so many lines that I tended to wish it would occasionally bring a little moralizing to the table. While I appreciate that Monroe’s not the stereotypical sexual predator, it seems a little odd that he conducts an affair with a 15-year-old and no one much seems to care. Even when Charlotte finds out, she seems more bothered by the threat to her relationship Minnie represents than by Monroe’s illegal shenanigans. The movie doesn’t need to condemn Monroe, but it seems to condone him more than one might find comfortable.

This connects to the ending as well. Minnie goes through an awful lot – sex with multiple partners of both genders, drinking, drugs, etc. – and yet the final message becomes nothing beyond “love yourself!” That’s it? After all that drama, she just winds up as Stuart Smalley?

The movie’s tawdriness impacts its ability to apply to a broader audience as well. Diary seeks to speak to the teenage girl experience, and some parts of it succeed. At its best, the film feels much more honest as it relates to teen girl attitudes/feelings than the average movie.

However, all the unhinged debauchery means the film can’t even remotely offer a “universal experience”. Whatever aspects represent the average teen girl, the story’s depiction of sex, drugs and booze prevents its ability to represent a wider audience. Perhaps I’m wrong and the filmmakers never intended it to provide more than a picture of a specific place and time, but it feels like an attempt at something bigger, and I don’t think it achieves those goals.

Even with these flaws, Diary does manage to offer an interesting trek. I admire its general refusal to cater or compromise, and it creates something compelling. This is an up and down trip but it comes with a mix of positives.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

The Diary of a Teenage Girl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Within its stylistic parameters, this became a good presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed fine. The image could appear a bit soft due to the photographic choices, but even with those, it remained well-defined. Neither jagged edges nor shimmering marred the presentation, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to mar the movie.

With the film’s palette, we got a mix of teal and amber. Those choices seemed trite but the movie reproduced them well, so they showed appropriate clarity. Blacks were dark and rich, while low-light shots showed nice smoothness. Nothing here dazzled, but the transfer reproduced the material in a positive manner.

I also thought the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine. As expected, the soundscape lacked much ambition, as it mostly stayed with general environmental material. This gave us a decent sense of place but nothing more than that. Music also demonstrated good stereo imaging.

Audio quality seemed solid. Music was full and well-reproduced, while effects were concise and accurate, even if they did little to tax my home theater system. Speech was natural and distinctive. I thought this was a perfectly adequate soundtrack for a chatty character film.

In terms of extras, we find an audio commentary with director Marielle Heller and actors Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgard. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, costumes, production design and period specifics.

Expect a pretty average commentary. On the positive side, we get a fairly good overview of various production areas, as the track covers the appropriate topics and includes some useful info. However, this comes with a lot of happy talk, as we find tons of praise for the film and all involved. There’s enough content to make the track worth a listen, but it doesn’t work as well as I’d like.

Next we get a featurette called Marielle’s Journey: Bringing the Diary to Life. It runs 23 minutes, seven seconds and includes notes from Heller, Skarsgard, Powley, producer Madeline Samit, executive producer Jorma Taccone, production designer Jonah Markowitz , director of photography Brandon Trost, and actor Kristen Wiig.

We learn about the project’s path to the screen, story and characters, cast and performances, rehearsals, cinematography and production design, shooting in San Francisco, animation, and Heller’s impact on the shoot. A little info repeats from the commentary, but “Journey” manages to deliver enough new material to turn into a solid show.

A 25-minute, 19-second Q&A features Marielle Heller, Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgard. They touch on the source material and its move to the screen, story/characters, cast and performances, and a few other aspects of the production. This is the third time we’ve heard from Heller, Powley and Skarsgard, and they don’t have much new to say. We get a few unique tidbits, but don’t expect a lot of fresh material.

Three Deleted Scenes follow. We see “Domino vs. the City” (0:59), “Charlotte’s Making Dinner” (2:22) and “Minnie and Friends” (2:14). “Domino” gives us a “disaster movie” Minnie shoots that stars her cat; it’s vaguely amusing but wouldn’t have made sense in the final cut. “Dinner” shows multiple takes of the same segment; it’s interesting solely to see Wiig improv.

Finally, “Friends” lets us see a little more of a night on the town as well as a confrontation between Minnie and Kimmie. It adds too much melodrama to a movie already packed with over the top character moments.

The disc opens with ads for Irrational Man, Jimmy’s Hall, Truth, Infinitely Polar Bear, Grandma and Labyrinth of Lies. We also find the trailer for Diary.

Despite its innocent-sounding title, The Diary of a Teenage Girl brings a tale of sex and debauchery. The film suffers from some missteps but does enough right to keep the viewer with it. The Blu-ray offers mostly good picture and audio along with some informative supplements. Diary becomes a dark but involving journey.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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