In the bohemian San Francisco of 1976, 15-year-old school girl Minnie (Powley) is eager to explore her sexuality and lose her virginity. Looking for attention in all the wrong places, she sets her sights on her mother’s 35-year-old boyfriend Monroe (Skarsgard) who is only too happy to oblige. Minnie also dreams of becoming a cartoonist and finds creative and emotional outlet in her art. But her untenable romantic situation is definitely a distraction.
Adapted from the popular graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, Heller’s clever, assured first feature uses interwoven animation to highlight Minnie’s state of mind, and stays true to the book’s forthright portrayal of teenage sex and drug use. The slightly hangdog Cowley is beguiling and fearless as the precocious Minnie, while Skarsgard manages to convey apathy, weakness, and a high sleaze factor without seeming outright evil. Wiig completes the terrific cast in this unblinkered, tragicomic coming of age story.