It’s not often that I can relate to someone half my age, but in the case of the lead character in The Edge of Seventeen, played by Hailee Steinfeld, I felt myself agreeing with her and feeling empathy on multiple occasions.
The Edge of Seventeen focuses on Nadine, an awkward high school junior who has one close friend, her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Things haven’t been easy for Nadine and peak following the death of a beloved parent. Add into the mix her all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) starting to date Krista and things go from bad to worse.
Speaking from experience, being a 17-year-old girl is tough. It’s tough in the way that The Edge of Seventeen portrays, and it is for that reason that I enjoyed and appreciated this film so much.
Compared to other coming-of-age stories within the genre, The Edge of Seventeen is realistic:
- There’s underage drinking with all the emotional ramblings and horrific hangover that I’m sure many of us can relate to
- There’s unrequited love for someone who is just a regular person and (refreshingly) not the superstar jock or archetypal heart-throb
- There’s profanity galore. Lots of it, and quite inventive too
Steinfeld is a fantastic actress and I flitted between feeling empathy towards Nadine and thinking about how self-centred she was being. As I wrote, being 17 is tough, especially considering you’re a walking cocktail of hormones, emotions and feelings.
She is ably supported in particular by Kyra Sedgwick (who plays her mother, Mona) and Woody Harrelson. Harrelson is amiable as straight-talking teacher Max Bruner who becomes a quasi father figure for Nadine.
At 1 hr 44 it is well paced, keeps moving and has some quotes that really hit home (case in point: when Nadine is told by a crush that he is there for sex only). Character development is well thought out and we not only see Nadine’s growth but moments of discovery for her brother and mother too.
On first watch I was blown away by Kelly Fremon Craig’s directorial debut, and I’m confident that on rewatches my appreciation of it will grow.
The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick
“High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.” – IMDb
- Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 2017 Golden Globes