We talked to director Marielle Heller (her movie The Diary of a Teenage Girl, starring Bel Powley and Kristen Wiig, hits theaters August 7) and author Phoebe Gloeckner (her coming-of-age novel inspired the flick) about the angst and exhilaration of our pre-adulthood days.
Marie Claire: Marielle, what attracted you to Phoebe's book?
Marielle Heller: My sister gave me Phoebe's book as a Christmas present, and it totally blew me away. The most honest depiction of what it felt like to be a teenage girl, without any judgment. Though when my mom read the book, she said, "I felt like it was all about the mother."
Phoebe Gloeckner: When I first met your mother, I wondered why she looked at me so funny!
MC: What are some of the teen-girlhood realities that the story touches on?
MH: We don't see girls exploring their sexuality often, not in a very honest way. We're given the lesson that boys are the ones who are interested in sex, and as a girl, your job is to withhold sex until you decide you're going to give it up, or something. This was a simple, revolutionary idea of a young girl who's thinking about sex really honestly and without shame.
PG: And this is not a '70s family. It happens to be in the '70s, and that's a great, colorful period, but you meet [the protagonist] Minnie everywhere, all of the time.
MC: What is Minnie searching for?
MH: I remember thinking that same thought Minnie has: Is there anybody thinking about me out there? And hoping it was a cute boy at school.
PG: She's looking for love. Whatever it is.
MH: My adult version of love involves a lot more work, and it's a lot dirtier and feels a lot less like someone just loves you out there in the world.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl hits theaters on August 7, watch the trailer below:
A version of this article appears in the August 2015 issue of Marie Claire.