Minnie Goetze is a bright and bubbly teenage girl just beginning to experience certain changes within herself. The speed of these changes lead her to record a diary on a cassette tape, detailing her altering life and sense of self after losing her virginity to her mother's dashingly handsome new boyfriend Monroe Rutherford. This feeling of burgeoning adulthood and an obsession with this older man provokes artistic revelations within her, as her passion for drawing develops. This new romance begins a definite sexual awakening, dooming Minnie's mind to nothing but thoughts about boys and sex. Meanwhile, her self-absorbed mother remains naive to Minnie's inner changes, as much as she believes that Minnie is going through something, but can't fathom that they're to do with relationships.
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It's Park Slope, Brooklyn, circa 1986, and the Berkman family is splitting up at the mid-swing of the pendulum of the adults' professional lives. On the downswing is the father, Bernard (Jeff Daniels), a professor and once-celebrated writer. Linney plays the mother, Joan, a blossoming writer coming out from under Bernard's shadow. He's been distant and awful, she's had affairs and been generally resentful, so now Bernard is moving to a falling-down house on the far side of Prospect Park while she gets to keep the gorgeous brownstone. The kids, of course, get screwed, with split custody keeping them in one house for half the week and the other house for the rest. Ensuring that things will stay nice and dysfunctional, the kids choose sides, with teenaged Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) sticking with Bernard and even picking up his mannerisms, while younger Frank (Owen Kline) throws in with Joan.
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