FILM: Diary of a Teenage Girl – A warning to parents
This film will be spoken about in 20 years. It’s an art house masterpiece and then some, like Taxi Driver. Actor Bel Powley will become a household name from her performance as a 15 year old who has sex with her mother’s 35-year old boyfriend played by Alexander Skarsgard.
It plunges you into 1976, bathed in the dusty, orange light of a decade that threw off the mistakes of its forefathers – pointless War – and took bolt cutters to the white-shirted, crew cut respectability of the 50s and 60s. Here is a time in history that gave us Iggy Pop, Janis Joplin and women’s liberation. In every shot you feel the era.
So what’s not to love? As I watched it with two friends who’d raised sons, I paused. What would the parents of girls feel watching this? The director Marielle Heller, was reportedly unimpressed at the film receiving an 18 certificate in the UK – but I think another warning should be added.
Mums and Dads of girls might find this film disturbing. What if my friend with a 13-year old saw this or my other friend with a 15-year old daughter? Surely it would strike fear into their minds. Or at least questions. Will my daughter think like that? Will she behave like that? Could the thoughts of the film’s main character Minnie be driving their children’s actions, even the child who still sleeps with her teddy and hasn’t worked out how to undo the clasp on her bra yet?
Naturally, I’m only joking. My friends are intelligent and can differentiate their own children from Minnie. It’s like watching We Need to Speak About Kevin, and relating it back to your own son. Ridiculous. But the mix of body and beauty insecurity and the overwhelming flood of hormones in the teenage child are scary for parents to contemplate. I’d think carefully about how you talk about it to the parents of girls if you’re lucky enough to see this film, which at some stage you will.