The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Marielle Heller makes an impressive debut with this frank comic-drama, based on cartoonist Phoebe Gloeckner’s semi-autobiographical novel. Set in boho 70s San Francisco, precocious Gloeckner avatar Minnie (brilliantly played by Brit actor Powley) begins an affair with her flakey, free-spirit mother's (Wiig) hot, if lug-headed, boyfriend (Skarsgård). Heller deftly captures this transition from newly sexually active teen to full-blown adulthood, and all the experimentation/fuck-ups that entails.
The approach is disarming. It’s difficult to recall another example in the coming-of-age genre so steadfast in its lack of judgement, especially one featuring a female protagonist. It's gorgeous, too: Brandon Trost’s hazy cinematography complements detailed mise-en-scène to evoke the distinctive period, with Millie’s drawings – heavily influenced by Aline Kominsky-Crumb – occasionally coming to life in the frame to add a fantastical, dreamy element. Skarsgård and the astonishing Powley present complex characters, with the power dynamics of their relationship ever-evolving. The former oscillates between pathetic and alluring where others might have gone for creepy and dangerous, and the latter evocatively captures the naïvety and burgeoning self-confidence of late adolescence. [Chris Fyvie]