When I saw Diary Of A Teenage Girl at Sundance this past winter, I spent half the movie looking at the faces around me, seeing if those who were viewing it for the first time were as enthralled and shocked as I was. I was enthralled because the film is a sex-positive conversation about what it is like to be a girl, and what it is like to be a teenage girl, and what it is like to be a horny teenage girl. And I was shocked because director Marielle Heller looked directly at the burgeoning desire of the young protagonist and refuses to flinch. Minnie Goetz (played expertly, expertly by Bel Powley) is naked, confused, pondering, and figuring out that she wants to consume the sexualities of the people around her, take them into her world, chew them up, and spit them out. That type of conversation, especially around a 15-year-old girl, is downright shocking. As the star Alexander Skårsgard told me, “Why has this not been done before? Why have I seen 25 coming-of-age stories about boys that are addressing their sexuality and being honest about what they are going through, that I can connect to, but I’ve never seen this with a girl as a protagonist. With a girl, it is always so polished. It’s always so ‘cute,’ in the most Christian way—you don’t think about sex, you think about marriage.”
Kristen Wiig also shows off her dramatic acting chops as a woman who is so self-centered, she doesn’t seem to notice Minnie’s newly ignited sexuality. The film belongs in the rarefied pantheon of coming-of-age stories written by women, about women, that don’t end in a cheerleading, a dance-off, or a musical. See it, trust.