Melissa P. ★★

This embarrassingly Lifetime Channel-quality teen drama from newly revered Italian director Luca Guadagnino may not make fans of Call Me By Your Name reconsider their appraisal of his talents, but they may have cause to wonder how he got from here to there in just over a decade. Based on a popular Italian confessional teen memoir, One Hundred Strokes of the Brush Before Bed, Melissa P. depicts a 15-year-old girl's descent from a bad sexual initiation into gang bangs and S&M. At its core, Melissa P. seems to be telling the same essential story as the wonderful 2015 drama Diary of a Teenage Girl -- how teen girls can be manipulated into mistaking the intentional exploitation of their developing sexuality as empowerment, only to regret it later -- but it seems to lack that crucial awareness in its final act. The saving grace of Melissa P. is young star María Valverde, who does her best to rise above the low quality, TV-movie aesthetics, but there is otherwise little redemptive value in this sensationalist movie that itself exploits teen sexuality for lurid thrills in the most ordinary fashion.