Monday, August 17, 2015

The Diary of a Teenage Girl [2015]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB ()  ChicagoTribune (4 Stars) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (B+)  Fr. Dennis (1 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (S. O'Malley) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

The Diary of a Teenage Girl [2015] (directed and screenplay by Marielle Heller based on the novel [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Phoebe Gloeckner [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is a definitely _appropriately_ R-rated film about a 15 year old whose first sexual experience (and second, third, ...) was with her mid-late 30-something mother's boyfriend (also 30-something though perhaps a couple of years younger than said mother).  Say what??

Obviously, this is _not_ a "light" film.  And let's be clear, there are adults, both men and women (among them, of course, some past Catholic priests), WHO ARE IN PRISON / AND ON LIFELONG SEX OFFENDER LISTS for having had sex / entered into sexual relationships with minors.  So what possible value could there be to making such a film?

To be honest, this is a film IN THE FIRST PLACE FOR PARENTS / OTHERWISE ADULTS and then perhaps for SOME TEENS (with HOPEFULLY some parental involvement).

Why Parents?  Well this film is as good a reminder as any to divorced / unmarried / recently married parents with kids that their new "one" could have dangerous issues with regards to the kids (from hitting them to hitting-on / SLEEPING with them...).  Yes, can be pretty awful and/or lonely to be divorced / unmarried with kids at home, but one simply has to be very careful about who one's bringing (new) into the house because one's not just putting oneself at risk, but also one's kids.  Honestly, it's just the reality.

Then why adults in general?   If a fifteen year old (a minor) starts thinking that you want to have sex with them, it's time to run.  There's NO WAY that such a relationship could play-out well and in the U.S. today (and, indeed, in most of the western world) 9-out-of-10, 95-out-of-a-100, the adult's gonna end-up in jail / on a sex offender list, etc.  So the film presents an opportunity to internalize how stupid / creepy the guy was in the film and then to redouble one's efforts manage one's life in a manner that would avoid getting sucked into a situation like the one portrayed in the film.

So then what the heck happened in the film to produce such an intro to a review of it?

The very first line of the film (set in San Francisco in 1976) has the film's 15-year-old protagonist Minnie (played by 20-something actress Bel Powley) proclaim in a voice-over to viewers: "Today, I had sex for the very first time."

The next fifteen-or-so minutes involves her progressively revealing to viewers the exact circumstances of the loss of her virginity, and it becomes clear that the circumstances were quite fumbled and yucky and let's face it, the guy (played by Alexander Skarsgård), was her twice divorced 30-something mother (played by Kristen Wiig)'s 30-something boyfriend.

How did it come to that?  Well, Minnie explained:  Some days (or a couple of weeks) before, she and her younger half-sister Gretel (played by Abby Wait) along with their mom and mom's largely-live-in boyfriend were all watching TV.  Eventually Gretel and mom pealed off to go to bed, leaving Minnie and her mom's boyfriend alone.  Having all been snuggling together (as "family") before, Minnie and mom's boyfriend were left in that position after the other two left.  Then whether by accident -- he _could have been_ tired, he _could have been_ drunk -- or intentionally, said mom's boyfriend plopped his hand on Minnie's breast and _appeared to fall asleep_.   Was it a come-on?

I could imagine a lot of people who see that movie debating that point.  However, it's beside the point:  that accidental and/or very creepy gesture left Minnie, a not particularly confident in her own skin 15 year old, wondering: "What did he mean?"  But she kinda liked it (it was the first time anyone had touched her like that).  And so sometime later (a few days later or a few weeks later) SHE TELLS HIM that SHE wants to have sex with him.

Said boyfriend of Minnie's mom had exactly one opportunity to end this well.  HE COULD HAVE SAID: "But Minnie I love your mom."  BUT HE DIDN'T (SAY THAT) BECAUSE HE DIDN'T (REALLY LOVE MINNIE'S MOM).  He was JUST SLEEPING WITH MINNIE'S MOM because she was available and HE (PROBABLY) HAD "NOTHING BETTER GOING ON."  Not exactly a romance that would "launch a 1000 ships ..."

He could have also said: "Minnie you're 15 years old and I don't want to go to jail" and since he didn't particularly love Minnie's mom anyway, could have made a relatively easy exit over the next several days.

Instead because he probably was something of a creep, he had sex with her.

The rest of the movie follows.  Again, this is not a pretty picture.  In fact, IMHO it is quite an ugly one.  Is it "realistic"?  I think that most viewers would probably hope not.  But it can give parents, adults and possibly some older teens some things to think about.

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