This film has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was on numerous indie best 10 lists, and one of my closest friends thought it was “very good.” The first half of the movie is often funny and, on the whole, very interesting. I thought the movie at times lost its way in the second half, so I didn’t like it as much as the critics. It is, however, worth renting.
This film is a first effort from Writer/Director Marielle Heller and is based on the novel by Phoebe Gloeckner. Heller is talented and I expect to see even better films from her in the future.
The film is set in the 1970’s in San Francisco, where free love and drugs are ubiquitous. Minnie (Bel Powley) is a 15-year-old whose hormones are raging. The film starts after she just had sex for the first time, is ecstatic about the experience, and wants more. She is insecure, self-conscious, and doesn’t think she is very attractive, so just having great sex with a hot male who can’t resist her charms is quite validating. For better or for worse, her choice for her first partner is her mother’s handsome boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Akarsgard), who offers only token resistance to her seduction. Her divorced mother, Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) is self-centered, drinks too much, and uses drugs (as does Monroe). She is, at best, a marginally-competent parent, so co-opting her mother’s boyfriend seems understandable under the circumstances.
The cast is excellent, especially Powley. There are some really good scenes – a few of which are very funny – while some others are poignant, but it takes a couple of unsuccessful detours in the second half, losing its momentum.
Nevertheless, it’s a far more interesting diary than the one I might have written, which unfortunately would have had a “G” rating.