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The Diary of a Teenage Girl: Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) movie poster The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Theatrical Release: August 7, 2015 / Running Time: 102 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Marielle Heller / Writers: Phoebe Glockner (book), Marielle Heller (screenplay)

Cast: Bel Powley (Minnie Goetze), Alexander Skarsgård (Monroe Rutherford), Christopher Meloni (Pascal MacCorkill), Kristen Wiig (Charlotte Goetze), Madeline Waters (Kimmie Mintner), Austin Lyon (Ricky Wasserman), Abigail Wait (Gretel Goetze), Quinn Nagle (Chuck Saunders), Margarita Levieva (Tabatha), John Parsons (Burt), Anthony Williams (Frankie), Carson Mell (Michael Cocaine)

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The Diary of a Teenage Girl adapts Phoebe Glockner's semi-autobiographical 2002 graphic novel of the same name. Set in 1976 San Francisco,
the film opens with 15-year-old Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) rejoicing over the fresh loss of her virginity. Socially alienated, emotionally reserved, and uncomfortable in her body, Minnie seizes her first opportunity to have sex, even if it's with Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård), the 34-year-old boyfriend of Minnie's divorced mother (Kristen Wiig).

Aspiring cartoonist Minnie enjoys the act of sex and keeps going back to Monroe for more, no matter how inappropriate the relationship strikes us. Again and again, the doe-eyed teenager and her mom's boyfriend hook up, keeping their relationship secret and entirely sexual. Meanwhile, Minnie finds her artistic voice, inspired by the work of underground comics artist Aline Kominsky.

Minnie also experiments with a classmate and with a young woman she meets at a club. But she keeps going back to Monroe, albeit with conflicted feelings, even after those around her grow wise to their affair.

"The Diary of a Teenage Girl" stars Bel Powley as the insecure titular teen awakened, Minnie Goetz.

Diary recalls Ghost World. It too is an offbeat indie coming-of-age tale with an insecure adolescent at the center. Furthering that connection to Ghost World, which was written and directed by Robert Crumb documentarian Terry Zwigoff, are the references to Kominsky, who has been married to Crumb since 1978 and, sharing his askew artistic view of the world, has collaborated with him repeatedly over the years.

Marking both the writing and directing debuts of Marielle Heller, a 35-year-old with sporadic TV and film acting credits dating back to 2001, Diary is well-made, boasting thoughtful characterization, on-point period production design, strong performances, and a relatable emotional palette.
While all that explains its critical acclaim, it remains a difficult film to warm to. As a testament to that, after a promising start in four theaters, the movie completely failed to find an audience when Sony Pictures Classics expanded it to 795 theaters and managed to bring in a paltry sum of $495 per theater in that expansion weekend, prompting a quick retreat thereafter.

There are no characters to like here, with all exhibiting questionable judgment throughout. And the content never stops being discomforting. Though a comedy, there is nary a laugh to be found. It's tough to find any redeeming features in fact, apart from the fact that Diary is different and personal and unrestrained. Still, it's not an easy 102 minutes to endure, even with the occasional glimmer of creativity, like Kominsky-inspired illustrations that coming to life with animation and a semi-amusing but peripheral turn by Christopher Meloni as Minnie's father.

Recognized by a number of fringe and indie-minded awards (three nominations at the Indie Spirit Awards, one win from four nominations at the Gotham Awards), Diary of a Teenage Girl hit home video this week in a DVD and the Blu-ray + Digital HD edition reviewed here.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl: Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, Portuguese), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Extras Subtitled in English, Portuguese, and Spanish
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($30.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


Sony has long and reliably put out some of the best-looking discs around and The Diary of a Teenage Girl's Blu-ray leaves no room for improvement. Despite a deliberately grainy, decidedly retro look, the sharp 2.40:1 transfer shows off that period production design with all the clarity of a more expensive studio film. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack also warrants no complaint. The movie avoids the old familiar needle drops in favor of melancholy score and more esoteric '70s tunes.

Minnie's bohemian mother Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) frantically pitches dinner and dessert ideas in this collection of alternate takes that is placed among deleted scenes. Marielle Heller is seen making her directorial debut in "Marielle's Journey: Bringing the Diary to Life."


The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by screenwriter-director Marielle Heller and lead actors Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgård. Theirs is a light-hearted but thoughtful commentary,
which mostly unfolds with the three recalling the filming conditions of what they're seeing. They share lots of inside stories, from acknowledging Heller's parents' input (as experts on '70s drugs) to discussing the use of animation.

Next up, and exclusive to Blu-ray, is a section of three deleted scenes (5:24). These include Minnie's black and white short film of her cat destroying a model San Francisco, several alternate takes of a coked-up Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) pitching dinner and dessert ideas, and Minnie fighting with Kimmie (Madeline Waters) over her sexual history.

"Marielle's Journey: Bringing the Diary to Life" (23:07) is a thorough making-of featurette which serves up talking heads and plenty of behind-the-scenes footage. It sheds much light on the film's journey from print through stage play. Writer-director Heller is front and center, which is as it should be, but cast and producers also chime in about this indie passion production, its source text, its challenging content, and the period setting.

Bel Powley, sans period bangs, and Alexander Skarsgård, discuss the film's making in this Q & A and the audio commentary. The Diary of a Teenage Girl's most artistic poster becomes its Blu-ray top menu screen.

An unidentified Q & A session (25:19) with Heller, Powley, and Skarsgård moderated by Variety's Jenelle Riley covers the bases you want, from the film's inception and casting
to the challenges of the 24-day San Francisco shoot and the cast's preparation. The floor is then opened to those in attendance, whose questions are printed onscreen.

Finally, Sony Pictures Classics kindly preserves Diary's original US theatrical trailer (1:48).

The disc opens with trailers for Irrational Man, Jimmy's Hall, Infinitely Polar Bear, Truth, Grandma, and Labyrinth of Lies. All are repeated through the menu's "Previews" listing.

Like the full-color disc, the static, scored menu recycles elements from the film's most creative poster design. As usual, Sony authors the disc to support bookmarks and resume playback.

Holding a Digital HD insert, the side-snapped keepcase is topped by a glossy slipcover featuring the same artwork below.

An animated heart made of flowers forms around the telephone for Minnie Goetz (Bel Powley).


The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a film that is much easier to respect than it is to like. This coming-of-age dramedy is earnest and well-acted, but also off-putting in its sex-heavy content. Sony's Blu-ray provides high quality picture and sound plus a solid hour of video extras and an audio commentary. If you can get on board with the film, you should appreciate this presentation of it. I could not and did not, though.

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Reviewed January 22, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 Sony Pictures Classics, Caviar, Cold Iron Pictures, Archer Gray Productions, and 2016 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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