Marielle Heller directs Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård in this Seventies-set erotic teen drama where a 15 year old begins an ill advised affair with her mother’s middle aged boyfriend.
A film that makes all the right choices about a girl trying out loads of wrong ones. Heller never sits in judgment on the various ways Powley’s Phoebe explores her intense sexuality… the risks and perils are ever present but never unleashed as punishments. And thanks to Powley, in what should have been an A-List star making turn, Phoebe is a pretty complex protagonist… artistic, manipulative, gauche and experimental. We share her thrill in all transgressions and pleasures, never shying from the fact that even emotionally dangerous sex can still be fun and satisfying in the moment. The parallel subplot of Phoebe growing through her comic art is realised with animated intrusions that add a wonderful fantasy dimension to the often seedy reality. This is the second time I’ve watched The Diary of a Teenage Girl and I think it is a real overlooked gem of recent years. Mature, sexy and sensitive. Well worth seeking out.
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