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'The Diary of a Teenage Girl': EW preview

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STARRING Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Kristen Wiig

DIRECTED BY Marielle Heller

RATED R

RELEASE DATE August 7

How do you take Phoebe Gloeckner’s 2002 novel about a teen who loses her virginity to her mother’s boyfriend and not make it salacious or downright creepy? You put it in the hands of Marielle Heller, who spent three years transforming it into an Off Broadway play (that she also starred in) before turning it into this bold cinematic examination of a girl’s sexual evolution.

“I’ve never cared about a project this much in my whole life,” says Heller of the Sundance hit, which centers on Minnie (Bel Powley, see sidebar), the daughter of a young, withholding mother (Kristen Wiig) living in 1970s San Francisco, ground zero of the sexual revolution. “I am telling this story from this girl’s point of view, and she doesn’t feel like she’s being taken advantage of, so we, as an audience, can’t feel like she’s being taken advantage of either.”

Powley, 23, had never kissed anyone on screen, let alone stripped down for a sex scene (with Alexander Skarsgård, who plays her seducer). But she did overcome her nerves. “Because I was trying to portray something real, and I wasn’t trying to be beautiful or sexy, there was less pressure on me,” she says. “It was a relief, and I hope it starts a trend. It’s annoying when you’re watching a movie and you can see that the woman has tons of makeup on, it’s shot from [a flattering] angle, and there’s lighting to make her look skinny. It’s annoying as a viewer and it’s annoying as an actress.” Which may make this the least annoying movie of the summer.