Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ (2015)

Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics

Nothing is as intoxicating – or terrifying – as power that’s been thrust on you and which shockingly fits you like a glove.

In The Diary of a Teenage Girl, 15-year-old Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) learns about wielding such power through the carnal and emotional pleasures of sex. The downside is that her first, two-decades older partner happens to be her mother’s boyfriend.

Directed by Marielle Heller and based on the graphic novel of Phoebe Gloeckner, the movie is set in culturally experimental San Francisco in 1976. Diary lightens its serious theme – delightfully so, as if to underscore that Minnie has ample residues of immaturity inside her – with animation and cartoon-like effects that accompany the teen’s creative musings, interior monologs, diarying, tape recording and artistic sketching.

The question that Diary poses, however, is how far will Minnie take her newly mined Plutonian influence over the opposite sex. Turns out, pretty far. Her mom Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) gets to the heart of the matter when she tells her daughter, “You have a power, you just don’t know it yet.”

Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics

What an understatement.

In fact, Diary turns the Persephone myth upside down, as Minnie, the fill-in for the nameless Greek maiden picking proverbial hormonal flowers, seduces and metaphorically kidnaps Hades substitute Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård), her alcoholic mother’s boyfriend.

At first, Minnie is stunned by her power. “Somebody wants me! Somebody wants to have sex with me!” she gushes. Before long, the teen has associated sex with self-identification: “I want a body pressed up against me, so I know I’m here.” It doesn’t hurt that Monroe tells her she has a hold on him, either. Not surprisingly, before long Minnie is honing her sexual prowess.

It’s easy to play therapist here. Minnie’s mother is a self-involved hedonist and, as her stepfather (Christopher Meloni) points out, in need of mothering herself. Still, that doesn’t let Minnie off the hook.

As her childishness and manipulation begin to bleed through her sexy posturing, Minnie makes a case that sex-as-initiation is no guarantee of smooth transition into adulthood.

Archetype: Seductress. Child. Power. Sex.

Astrology Archetype: ♇ (Pluto)

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