Both Anthony Williams (who plays Frankie) and Quinn Nagle (who plays Chuck) attended UC Berkeley as full time students while making this film. But they didn't meet each other until they got the parts. See more »
Had many good qualities, didn't meet its potential.
I watched this movie because the premise reminded me of a British film I'd seen, "Fish Tank". Maybe it was because of that high benchmark that I was thoroughly disappointed with "Diary of a Teenage Girl".
I am not the main demographic for this film, but that in no way should be used to excuse the faults it has. Despite the film being intended for teenage girls, its themes are universal. Themes like insecurity of identity, longing for love, and the confusing loneliness of adolescence are feelings known by nearly everyone. The issue this film has, thematically, is how it portrays its themes. Too often our protagonist, Minnie, would simply talk to her diary (a surrogate for the audience) about how she felt without any visual representation to convey those feelings.
For the most part the acting was stellar. Performances by Bel Powely and especially Alexander Skargard were particularly great. Kristen Wiig's performance was a little on the weak side, but due to her characters lack of contribution to the plot, it's excusable. The costume and set design were nothing special, they realistically portrayed the 70's which is all they really needed to do.
The cinematography was hit and miss. There certainly were some very pretty shots within the film. The two main problems with the cinematography were a lack of shot variation and how it was used to tell the story. Just about the entirety of the film was shot in either close up or a medium shot. The majority of the film was Minnie's face as she looked at something, and every now and then there would be a shot of what she was looking at. There was no notable camera movement and rarely were there more than 2 characters in a frame, neither of those things are necessarily bad but when it's all the film does for nearly 2 hours it gets stale fast. The visual metaphors were lacking in this film. As said before, Minnie would simply talk the themes at the audience directly rather than the film showing them through visual motifs. The only scenes with visual motifs present were those where she lays in the bath or looks at herself in the mirror and ponders her loneliness. But even those scenes feature her voice-over narration explaining her emotions rather than allowing the audience to decipher them alone.
The editing was slightly above average. The pacing was pretty good, although some scenes were cut short and then later referred to as being relevant when they didn't feel so. The sex scenes were kept at an appropriate length. Often films with prevalent sexual themes will shoot and edit sex scenes in a drawn out manner for the sake of shock value. This was not the case in "Diary of a Teenage Girl". Other good uses of editing were a few examples of cutting to sound to start a scene. Aside from that the editing was pretty standard.
The sound was not great. The music choice didn't work for this film, most of the songs sounded like typical indie/folk rock songs made from the last decade. The soundtrack didn't need to be "Dazed and Confused" but for a film set in the 70's, it would do it some justice to have at least one recognizable 70's song.
Much like the cinematography, the script was very hit and miss. The characters were all written to have the maturity of a teenager, even the PhD step-dad character. This was either done as a commentary on parenting in that generation, or as a way of showing how Minnie sees her world; as inhabited by those with a maturity level akin to her own. None of the characters, not even Minnie, were very likable although that was probably done intentionally. One fault the script had was the lack of development Minnie goes through. Towards the very end she does grow a little, but for the vast majority of the film the only changes to her character are external. Meaning things like how much drugs she's taking or how much sex she's having change, but internally she stays the same. It's only at the very end that her general attitude and her attitude towards Monroe change. There was no dialogue that stood out as especially clever but there was also no dialogue that was especially stupid.
This film had its fair share of good bits but it failed to use them to tell a great story. With its plot dealing with such engaging subject matter, this film really fell short of its potential.
It was mediocre, maybe slightly below average. If you tend to like films like this, you'll probably get a decent amount of enjoyment out of it. Unfortunately, I did not. I'm rating this film as a weak 6/10, it might change to a 5/10 in the future.
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